Alberto Hurtado: The Peruvian doctor who won the most prestigious science award in America, in 1972

“Hurtado, 72 years old, was awarded for his biomedical research in the Andean areas of Peru, as well as for the merit of his findings in respiratory diseases in these same areas,” reported Trade.

The Peruvian scientist, who was also awarded $30,000, had served as Minister of Public Health and Social Assistance between 1946 and 1947, during the government of . At the time of receiving the high distinction from the OAS, Hurtado was Coordinator of the High Altitude Research Institute of the Cayetano Heredia University.

Alberto Hurtado is sworn in as Minister of Health. (Photo: GEC Historical Archive)

A few hours after being named the winner, the general secretary of the OASGallo Square. “He told me that he wanted to be the first to congratulate me for being the absolute winner”said the professional from Lima excited when he was interviewed by the dean at his home.

(Photo: GEC Historical Archive)

(Photo: GEC Historical Archive)

The man who is born and develops in an environment of altitude, exhibits a high degree of adaptation to these greater biological demands of altitude.”, was one of the conclusions reached Alberto Hurtado after meticulous studies of the man of the Andes, his conditioning at altitude and his respiratory diseases.

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When comparing the biological reactions of a group of athletes at sea level with that of inhabitants of the town of morocochaat 4,540 meters of altitude, Hurtado verified that the latter tired less, had greater pulmonary ventilation, less oxygen consumption in relation to the work performed, fewer heartbeats, and a more moderate level of alterations in arterial pressures.

Doctor Hurtado (D) is awarded in the United States in 1966. (Photo: GEC Historical Archive)

Doctor Hurtado (D) is awarded in the United States in 1966. (Photo: GEC Historical Archive)

In reality, there is no reason to think that Peruvians cannot carry out high-level research. This is a false image. The authorities should give more official support to universities, which is where these research projects can and should be carried out. The university serves to study, but also to investigate”, declared the Peruvian scholar, a few days after being awarded, to the Sunday Supplement of Trade.

The eminent man of science graduated from Harvard in 1924 and returned to Peru to practice as a doctor, but Dr. Carlos Monge, another renowned researcher, encouraged him to study the subject of altitude, and so he left for Oroya. That was the beginning of an outstanding career that led him to become, today, an obligatory reference in the scientific history of Peru.

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Alberto Hurtado: The Peruvian doctor who won the most prestigious science award in America, in 1972