- Category : Science-Biology
- Type : GE
- Profile : 6/2 - Role Model / Hermit
- Definition : Split - Small (18,34,35,38)
- Incarnation Cross : LAX The Clarion 1
Houssay was one of the most prominent and influential Latin American scientists of the twentieth century. His total dedication to the pursuit of knowledge and his untiring efforts to foster scientific and technical training among his compatriots received worldwide recognition. For more than twenty-five years his Institute of Physiology at the University of Buenos Aires was the scientific beacon for all of Latin America, and from its laboratories emerged disciples who now occupy prominent positions in scientific research and training throughout the continent.
The son of a French lawyer, Houssay was a precocious child who by the age of thirteen had already received his baccalaureate degree with honors from the Colegio Nacional de Buenos Aires, Thus in 1901 he was able to enter the School of Pharmacy of the University of Buenos Aires, from which he graduated first in his class at age seventeen. Houssay subsequently studied medicine at the University of Buenos Aires between 1904 and 1910; and his doctoral dissertation concerning the physiological activities of pituitary extracts, which won the school’s highest award, was published in 191 I.
While such academic achievements were being completed. Houssay was working as a hospital pharmacist to pay for his education and personal expenses. In 1908 he was named an assistant in the department of physiology of the Medical School, and was appointed to the chair of physiology at the School of Veterinary Science of the university the following year.
A measure of Houssay’s versatility and capacity for work can be seen in his activities after graduation from medical school. He established a private practice and became chief of a municipal hospital service while continuing as full professor in the School of Veterinary Science and part-time substitute professor in physiology at the Medical School, Beginning in 1915, Houssay took on the additional duties of chief of the section of experimental pathology at the National Public Health Laboratories in Buenos Aires. In the latter capacity he studied the action of snake and insect bites on coagulation, and developed a protective serum against certain spider toxins.
In 1919 Houssay was appointed to the chair of physiology at the University of Buenos Aires School of Medicine, and promptly converted the department into a full-fledged Institute of Physiology capable of engaging in experimental investigations. For the next twenty-five years he developed the Institute into one of the most prestigious world centers of physiological research.
Houssay’s devotion to academic and political freedom collided with the military dictatorship ruling Argentina after the 1943 revolution. Consequently he was stripped of his university posts and forced to continue his research in a private laboratory especially organized for him and his collaborators by the Sauberan Foundation.
A short-lived restoration of Houssavs academic position after the general amnesty of 1945 was followed by a second dismissal, ordered by the new government of Juan Perón. Despite numerous offers from other countries. Houssay’s remained in Argentina and was officially reinstated as director of the Institute of Physiology in 1955. He spent his last years directing the Argentine National Council for Scientific and Technical Research, which he had conceived and founded in 1957. This governmental organization sought to create new scientific careers, support research institutes, and stem the emigration of technical personnel.
Houssay was an outstanding, largely self-taught scientist who was influenced at the beginning of his career by Claude Bernard’s applications of the scientific method to medical problems. His early interests in the physiology of the pituitary gland and systematic studies regarding the action of insulin eventually led to a recognition of the role played by the anterior lobe of the hypophysis in carbohydrate metabolism. For this work Houssay shared the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine with G. T. and C. F. Cori in 1947. Before Hous-says research, it was commonly accepted that the posterior lobe of the hypophysis played a role in carbohydrate metabolism. After the discovery of insulin Houssay systematically studied the influence of endocrine glands on its activity. He soon discovered that hypophysectomized dogs were very sensitive to the hypoglycemic action of insulin.
By 1930, Houssay had proved the diabetogenic effect of extracts from the anterior lobe of the pituitary gland. Conversely, there was a remarkable decrease in the symptomatic severity of pancreatic diabetes after removal of the anterior pituitary lobe. The new vistas in endocrinological research opened by Houssay’s attention to the anterior portion of the pituitary gland were momentous, leading to the discovery of a number of hormonal feedback mechanisms involving the thyroid, adrenals, and gonads.
With his disciples Houssay also studied the pancreatic secretion of insulin, the hormonal control of fat metabolism, and the factors regulating arterial blood pressure. Over 600 scientific papers and several books attest to the breadth as well as the depth of his research.
Houssay’s activities were widely admired and recognized. A long-time member of the Argentine Academy of Medicine and founder of the Argentine Association for the Advancement of Science and the Argentine Biological Society, Houssay received many honors, including degrees from Paris. Oxford, Cambridge, and Harvard. In addition he was an associate foreign member of many scientific societies in the United States. Britain. Germany. France. Italy, and Spain.