Born in La Chorrera, Panama. Completed his studies of medicine at Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara in Mexico and subsequently did his residence in Pediatrics at the National Institute of Pediatrics in Mexico City, and a fellowship in Pediatric Infectious Disease at Hospital Infantil de Mexico “Federico Gomez”.
From 1987 to 1993 carried out a research post-doctoral fellowship in cell biology of parasites, including: Trypanosoma cruzi, Giardia lamblia, and Pneumocystis carinii at the Division of Geographic Medicine and Infectious Disease, New England Medical Center / Tufts University School of Medicine and served as Instructor in Medicine from 1988 to 1993 at the Department of Medicine, New England Medical Center. In 1990 was awarded the "Maxwell Finland" Young Investigator Award by the Massachusetts Infectious Diseases Society.
Between 1993 and 1998 completed a post-doctoral fellowship in Pediatric Infectious Disease at Lucile Salter Packard Children’s Hospital, Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, Stanford University, and a fellowship in the cell & molecular biology of Toxoplasma gondii at the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Stanford University School of Medicine.
From 1998 to 2005 served at different leadership positions at the Gorgas Memorial Institute for Health Studies in Panama, at Florida State University-Panama, and the Institute for Advance Scientific Investigations & High Technology Services of the Panamanian Science, Technology, and Innovation Council. From 2000-2007 was Associate Scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. From 2001 to 2013 was Adjunct Professor, Department of Microbiology and Tropical Medicine, George Washington University. Dr. Ortega-Barría is the author of +100 research articles, 38 textbook chapters on parasitology, pediatrics, infectious diseases, and vaccines, and is the co-inventor of 2 patents and 2 provisional patent applications in parasitology in the United States. From 2018-2021 Eduardo was a National Investigator of the Panamá National Investigation System. During the acute phase of the pandemic, he was a member of the COVID-19 Advisory Committee in Panama and is currently an advisor for the COVID-19 vaccination strategy.
Between 2006-2020 he was vice president and Director of Medical Affairs and Vaccine Research and Clinical Development for Latin America and the Caribbean at GlaxoSmithKline, where under his leadership vaccines were developed against rotavirus, pneumococcus, human papillomavirus, combination vaccines, meningococcus, and Herpes zoster. In 2022 he received a Doctor Honoris Causa from the Santa María La Antigua Catholic University for the work carried out during the COVID-19 pandemic. As of January 2021, he became Panama´s National Secretary for Science, Technology, and Innovation.