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The pioneers

By: Ana Palma

Seated, Carlos Chagas, Gomes de Faria, Cardoso Fontes,Gustav Giemsa, Oswaldo Cruz. Stanislas Von Prowazek e Adolpho Lutz. Standing, Arthur Neiva, Rocha Lima, Figueiredo de Vasconcelos, Alcides Godoy e Henrique Aragão.

On a normal day between the months of June and December of 1908, Oswaldo Cruz gathered his researchers for a picture in front of the tea house gazebo. It was a way of registering that two illustrious German scientists, Gustav Giemsa and Stanislas Von Prowazek, had visited the place.

The visits of the two researchers was one of the products of the success obtained by Brazil in the Berlin Congress of Hygiene and Demography, where the country got a gold medal for the health campaigns carried out in Rio de Janeiro.

Besides working on research, Prowazek and Giemsa also helped training the Institute's young scientists.

Gomes de Faria (1887-1962)

José Gomes de Faria was a doctor whose greatest accomplishment was the discovery of Ancylostoma brasiliensis, a parasite of dogs and cats that causes cutaneous larva migrans — also known as "creeping eruption," "ground itch" or "plumber's itch" — in humans.

Gomes de Faria started out at Manguinhos as a student. In 1912, he participated in the scientific expedition to the states of Ceará and Piauí, sponsored by the Public Works against Droughts Inspection Agency. As a helminthologist, he described new species of trematodes. He also did research on bacteriology and marine biology, as well as dedicated himself to the field of industrial fermentation.

 In 1933, he transferred himself to the National Technology Institute, where he headed the fermentation sector, in a program that provided support to the Sugar and Alcohol Institute. A professor of the National Chemistry School, he provided technical guidance for the creation of the Research Institute of the Gafrée Guinle hospital.

Cardoso Fontes (1879-1943)

Antônio Cardoso Fontes was a medical doctor from the state of Rio de Janeiro. His greatest accomplishments are his studies on tuberculosis. He was one of the first researchers of Manguinhos, did his specialization in Germany and France, at Calmette's laboratory, one of the creators of the vaccine against the disease.

He fought yellow fever in São Luís, the capital of Maranhão, and organized the health services of the city. After the death of Carlos Chagas, he was appointed director of the Oswaldo Cruz Institute. He was the founder and first president of the Brazilian Society of Tuberculosis, as well as one of the founders of the Rio de Janeiro School of Medical Sciences, where he was a microbiology professor and its first director.

Gustav Giemsa (1867-1948)

Gustav Giemsa was a German chemist, pharmacologists and bacteriologist. He is most famous for having developed the Giemsa staining, used in the histopathological diagnosis of malaria and other parasitic diseases. The method he created is used until today in laboratories.

He worked with Bernhardt Nocht at the Hamburg Institute of Tropical Medicine, having been appointed, in 1900, head of the Chemistry Department. In 1908, he spent six months at Manguinhos. He returned to Brazil in 1935 together with Ernst Nauck to study the acclimation of German populations to the tropics in the state of Espírito Santo.

Stanislas Von Prowazek (1875-1915)

Stanislas Josef Mathias von Prowazek was a Czech zoologist and microbiologist that worked with some of the greatest German researchers of the time, Fritz Schaudinn and Paul Erlich. He did research on many infectious and parasitic diseases such as trachoma, syphilis, protozoan infections, Newcastle disease, among others.

He visited Java, Japan, Sumatra and Western Samoa, always studying infectious and parasitic diseases. In 1908, he worked at the Manguinhos Institute on smallpox and vaccinia, as well as on the training of young Brazilian researchers. Together with Rocha Lima, he studied exanthematous typhus. The disease was the reason the two researchers visited a prison camp in Cottbus, in 1915. Both got typhus, but Prowazek did not survive.

Adolpho Lutz (1885-1940)

Born in Rio de Janeiro, but trained in medicine in Switzerland, Adolpho Lutz discovered a new disease: South American blastomycosis, better known as paracoccidioidomycosis, a pulmonary disease caused by a fungus.

Lutz started his professional career in the state of São Paulo. In 1889, he traveled to Hawaii to study a Hansen's disease outbreak. Back in Brazil, he took on the position of head of the São Paulo Bacteriological Institute, the first of the kind in South America, which was named after him. In 1908, he started working for the Manguinhos Institute, where he worked for 32 years.

Lutz published numerous studies on typhoid fever, malaria, schistosomiasis, diphtheria, leishmaniasis, Hansen's disease, fungal infections, among others. He also did important studies in entomology. He passed in 1940.

Arthur Neiva (1880-1943)

Neiva was a scientist, entomologist and politician from the state of Bahia. He carried out important studies on triatomites, describing new species and how Chagas disease is transmitted. He also studied the mosquitoes that transmit malaria and detected quinine-resistant plasmodia. He headed the commission that pioneered the biological control of the coffee borer beetle.

Together with Belisário Penna, he organized the expedition of the Manguinhos Institute to the hinterlands of Brazil, describing the awful living conditions of the population, which led him to lead the movement to promote basic sanitation in the country. He was a so-called "intervener" (a governor during the Estado Novo period in Brazil) in the state of Bahia, as well as a federal deputy. He also directed the National Museum and the São Paulo Biological Institute.

Figueiredo de Vasconcellos

A contemporary of Oswald Cruz at the medical school, Henrique de  Figueiredo de Vasconcellos went to Manguinhos right when it was created. He was brought by the Baron of Pedro Affonso, with whom he worked at the Vaccine Institute in Rio de Janeiro. He did his specialization at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, where he developed the first studies of the institution in mycology, a field to which he contributed greatly.

Suggested by Oswald Cruz, he took office, in 1909 as the general director of public health, resigning soon afterwards in protest against a reduction in the health budget. At Manguinhos, he participated directly in the administration of institution, directing the institution on an interim basis when Oswaldo Cruz was away.

Alcides Godoy (1880-1950)

Alcides Godoy was a medical doctor from São Paulo whose major accomplishment was the veterinarian vaccines against black legged disease and anthrax (the latter with Astrogildo Machado), both of which caused a great impact in the Brazilian economy.

One of the members of the so-called "kindergarden of science," a term coined by Oswaldo Cruz to refer to the pioneers of Manguinhos, Godoy entered the Institute in 1903 to work in the production of sera and vaccines, remaining there until his passing.

Godoy relinquished his rights on the vaccines he helped developing to the Institute to be used in scientific activities. The so-called "blackleg budget" strengthen the autonomy of Manguinhos. At the late 1930s, with the centralization of resources by the government, Godoy and Machado created a company — which still exists today — to produce these immunizing agents.

Henrique Aragão (1879-1956)

Henrique de Beaurepaire Rohan Aragão was a medical doctor from the state of Rio de Janeiro that got his specialization in Germany. He discovered the exoerythrocytic cycle of Haemoproteus columbae, a pigeon parasite, which contributed to the discovery of a similar cycle of the plasmodium that causes malaria. He also discovered the virus that causes myxomatosis, a disease that affect rabbits, which made it possible for controlling the population of the animal in Australia. He also described how leishmaniasis it is transmitted by phlebotomine flies. He also studied ticks in Brazil, describing several new species, as well as carried out studies in yellow fever, smallpox, chickenpox and entomology.

At Manguinhos, Aragão was an intern, researcher, head of service, professor and director. As a director, he organized advanced services for Chagas disease, yaws, schistosomiasis and goiter. He also created the Bambuí Center, in the state of Minas Gerais, to study Chagas disease, and implemented, in Manguinhos, the Marine Biology unit and the medicine herb garden.

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