Neurocience in Uruguay
The beginnings of neurology and neurosurgery in Uruguay can be traced to the end of the last century and the beginning of this one when some clinical doctors started developing them. Maybe the starting point can be connected to F. Soca's doctora l thesis in Paris in 1888 and his return to our country as well as to A. Schroeder's return from Foerster Service in Germany in 1928.

If we take these medical-clinical beginnings as references, the real beginning of Neuroscience can be established when Clemente Estable met Santiago Ramón y Cajal in his laboratory in Madrid in 1924 and then returned to Uruguay. Clemente Estable f ounded the Institute of Biological Research, today called IIBCE after his name. Several clinical doctors, and some young students who would later dedicate their lives to Basic Neuroscience gathered around him. Remarkable professionals to be mentioned in t erms of Basic Neuroscience were Vaz Ferreira, A. and his successors Segundo, J.P. -who later on became professor at the University of California-, Galeano, C. -who left for Canada- and Arias, J.P. Among the most prestigious physicians must mention Gomenso ro, J.B., a neurologist, and especially, Arana-Iñíguez, R., a neurosurgeon. Arana-Iñíguez later became Director of the Neurology Institute within the Clinics Hospital of the Medical School. This Institute reached its highest mo ment under his guidance.

The initial neuroanatomic work started by Estable at the IIBCE continues to develop. A neurophysiological group was added later and nowadays there are two neurochemistry groups.

In the late forties and early fifties the Physiology Department of the Medical School -whose Director was then Bennatti, D.B.- had several distinguished foreign visiting teachers. Professor Heymans, already a Nobel Prize, and Professor Bacq, both from Be lgium. Also, the brilliant Chilean, Professor Luco, J. V. -Cannon's pupil-, visited us. Their presence here marked the creation of a Physiology and a Neurophysiology group of young Uruguayan physicians. Migliaro, E., García-Austt, E. and Segundo, J .P., organized the Neurophysiology laboratory and started doing research; many people cooperated and the first publications appeared. Today this very well equipped laboratory has grown into two teams. After having worked for over fifty years important con tributions have been made and have been documented in high quality publications.

In 1957 Arana-Iñíguez becomes Professor-Director of the Neurology Institute of Medical School and a high period in research in Neuroscience gets started. Arana-Iñíguez, who had studied abroad, next to Bailey in clinical aspect s and also at the Brain Research Institute at the University of California with Segundo, J.P., French, J., Naquet, R. and Hernández-Peón, R., linked the growth of diverse basic disciplines with clinical disciplines and techniques over space and time. It is in that institution that García-Austt, E. plays a relevant role in the Experimental Neurology section. He gives shape to a research team whose projects become supported by international contributions. It is also at this time that Re bollo, M.A. becomes the leader of a Neurohistology group.

Once the messy decade of the sixties is over the diaspora of 1973 takes place. Neuroscience becomes reduced to a minimum in our country. However, when García-Austt migrates to Madrid he returns to Spain the legacy Ramón y Cajal had given us in the twenties, when he helped Estable grow professionally. García-Austt co-founds the Spanish Society of Neuroscience in 1985 giving this discipline an important boost as well as organizing a very active research group in Madrid.

In Uruguay the low level of the Neuroscience, reduced to a minimum in terms of researchers, laboratories and financial resources during the dark military period was, at the same time, the foundation for the recovery of this science half through the eight ies. After 1985, with the return to democracy, those laboratories reduced to embryos started growing locally while welcoming researchers who were coming back to our country. Together, we have been able to reorganize our work so as to continue developing. Nowadays we can state that most of the techniques of this experimental discipline are well developed in our country. Neurophysiological, Neuroanatomical, Neurochemical, Neuropharmacological and other aspects are investigated by any of the many teams in th e institutions involved. As a whole, we have become a very reliable Neuroscience research group in this part of the world. We are really a Regional Center; in fact, since 1996 we organized the Regional summer Neuroscience School for graduate and post-grad uate workers from our country, Latinamerica and Spain. We have already had two successful schools and are getting ready for our third one in March, 1998.

Velluti, Ricardo A., 1997


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