The five medical celebrities for MSP in this 2022

We close a year, a 365-day cycle that leaves us with a complex selection of the five characters that made a difference in Puerto Rico and the world.

From left to right: Jhon C. Mather, Svante Pääbo, Iris Cardona, Carlos Díaz, and Ghassan Abou-Alfa. Photo: Magazine of Medicine and Public Health.

We finished a very busy year in different scenarios. In the field of medicine, we highlight the work of various professionals who have stood out for their contribution to health in the world.

From the Journal of Medicine and Public Health, we undertook the difficult task of selecting the five medical celebrities who made a difference this year, which has left us with a high incidence of cancer, viruses that have become oversized and thus affected the population, including professionals in Puerto Rico who captivate by their expertise and are more than merits to be in this ranking.

The golden eye of the James Webb Space Telescope has shown the universe in unprecedented detail. It was the gift of 10,000 million dollars to the world. A machine that would show us our place in the Universe and that was launched into space in December of last year, on Christmas Day.

It had taken three decades to plan, design and build this emblematic piece of equipment that continues to amaze us with the records achieved by experts in the field every day. Its implementation leads this year in the ranking of scientific milestones after numerous setbacks, and a dangerous journey of 1.5 million kilometers into space.

The new James Webb Space Telescope (JWST, NASA, ESA and the Canadian Space Agency), a project led by John C. Mather, the Virginia-born American astrophysicist and cosmologist; that from NASA, now allowed the universe to be explored with hope and that the telescope finally opened its golden eye.

Unlike its predecessor, Hubble, JWST can capture infrared light, including that emitted by the first stars and galaxies to come into existence. Within days of going live in late June 2022, researchers began discovering thousands of new galaxies, more distant and older than any previously documented.

Many wondered if this successor to the famous Hubble Space Telescope could really live up to the hype.

The golden eye of the James Webb Space Telescope has shown the universe in unprecedented detail. Photo: NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI. Image processing: J. DePasquale, A. Pagan, and A. Koekemoer (STScI)

Swedish Svante Pääbo, was the winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine 2022, in October of this year, as announced by the Karolinska Institute of Sweden. The researcher has revolutionized science, and his study is attributed to the creation of a new discipline in science: paleogenomics, which can be said to be the reconstruction of the genetic sequences of already extinct species.

This award was given to him for his discoveries on human evolution. For the committee, the researcher accomplished the seemingly impossible task, cracking the genetic code of one of our extinct relatives: the Neanderthals.

According to the organization’s statement: “Svante Pääbo has established a completely new scientific discipline, paleogenomics.” In addition to this, the evaluating team highlighted that the Swedish geneticist also made the discovery of an extinct hominid, the Denisova, which he achieved from genome data recovered from a bone sample of a little finger from a recovered specimen dating to about 70,000 years.

Pääbo’s discovery is vital, it opens a relevant picture, affecting the way our immune system reacts to infections. Since 1997, he has been the director of the Department of Genetics at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.


  • Dr. iris cardonadoctor by profession with a specialty in Pediatrics and sub-specialist in pediatric infectious diseases

A true jewel in the crown in times of anxiety in Puerto Rico, when COVID-19 came into rage in the archipelago. She is the woman who best knows the subject of vaccination on the island, she has dedicated twenty years of her life working with the vaccination program.

Currently, Dr. Cardona is the main official physician of the Puerto Rico Department of Health. She is a doctor by profession, she has completed a specialty in pediatrics and a subspecialty in pediatric infectious diseases.

In his eagerness to serve the Island, he took a specific course to learn more about vaccine-preventable diseases with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Later, she collaborated with the health department as a clinical consultant.

Her greatest contribution to the Island has been for years behind the vaccination schedules and serving as a doctor. For the expert: “Vaccines save lives. We have to get vaccinated.”


  • Dr. Carlos Diazpresident of the College of Surgeons of Puerto Rico

The cardiologist, Carlos Diaz Vélez, who was elected in May as the new president of the College of Surgeons of Puerto Rico. Since his appointment, he has shown complete dedication to deal with the various situations faced by both patients and specialists and the Puerto Rican medical staff.

Currently, he has been seen to be very emphatic in clarifying and finding solutions to the crisis facing the Puerto Rican health system, both on the issue of the so-called ‘leak’, and on the alleged embezzlement that is threatening the well-being of the community.

After his appointment and inauguration, he assured that: “I feel honored to receive the favor of my colleagues for the presidency of the College of Physicians. I deeply appreciate the trust we have received and we reaffirm our commitment to defend the profession and work tirelessly for the institution” Diaz Velez said.


In February of this year, the Gastrointestinal Tumors Symposium of the American Society of Clinical Oncology 2022 was held in the city of San Francisco, California, USA; there the news was released that the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of a new combination of drugs for the treatment of advanced-stage liver cancer.

The FDA approval was based on the results of the HIMALAYA clinical trial, led by Dr. Ghassan, the study involved 1,117 patients, at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK).

The oncologist’s research is focused on improving the efficacy of cancer therapy by incorporating novel small biologic molecules that target cancer in the treatment of chemotherapy-resistant gastrointestinal malignancies, particularly hepatobiliary and pancreatic cancers.

The combination of the immunotherapy drugs durvalumab (Imfinzi®) plus the experimental drug tremelimumab for people with unresectable hepatocellular cancer, which is the most common type of liver cancer; has delivered great results.


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The five medical celebrities for MSP in this 2022