Ruy Pérez Tamayo (1924-2022) was a man of two centuries, he embraced the Hippocratic Oath, he was the forger of medical research, promoter, teacher and recipient of scientific advances in the field; Generations of doctors benefited from the wisdom that he accumulated in his youth, and that could be summed up in a proverbial way: “to ensure that men and women live healthy all their lives, and die as late and with dignity as possible”.
In his childhood he lived through the last stage of the Spanish influenza pandemic, of scientific combat against numerous fatal diseases that have now been eradicated, present in decades of progress in favor of life, and which in 2006 he summarized as follows:
“If you compare the scientific progress achieved by the University from 1950 to the year 2000, the leap is quantum: it went from having practically nothing, to developing knowledge in the most outstanding subject in Latin America.”
The professor emeritus of the Faculty of Medicine (FM) of the UNAM was trained in the Old School and specialized in Pathology. He did postgraduate studies at Washington University, Saint Louis Missouri; and a doctorate in Immunology, at the National Polytechnic Institute.
On page four of Gaceta UNAM, edition of Monday, October 21, 1957, his biographical data as a relevant teacher was published, an omen of a prolific and brilliant career, which would reach six decades.
In 1954 he founded the FM Pathology Unit at the General Hospital of Mexico; in 1967 he was appointed head of the Cellular Biology Department of the Biomedical Research Institute (IIBm); and in 1974 he joined the current National Institute of Medical Sciences and Nutrition “Salvador Zubirán”, as head of the Department of Pathology.
Ten years later, he was appointed head of the Experimental Medicine Division of the FM, today the Department of Experimental Medicine based at the General Hospital of Mexico. He also served as National Researcher of Excellence of the National System of Researchers (SNI), where he taught a Patrimonial Chair of Excellence Level I.
Visiting Professor at the Universities of Harvard, Yale, John Hopkins, Minnesota, Galveston, Tel Aviv, Madrid and Lisbon, as well as in Costa Rica, San Salvador, Panama, Venezuela, Colombia, Chile and Argentina.
He focused his research on various aspects of pathology, which led him to make important contributions, including the description of the effect of methionine on wound healing and, for the first time in Mexico, diseases such as pleural mesothelioma, cutaneous amebiasis, cryptococcosis, bronchiolar emphysema and peritoneal mesothelioma.
The also member of the National College, of the Consultative Council of Sciences of the Presidency of the Republic, of the Mexican Academy of Language and of the National Commission of Medical Arbitration identified, from his investigations, the characteristics presented in Mexico by medical conditions. such as atherosclerosis, tumors of the heart and pericardium, primary carcinoma of the liver, tuberculosis, diffuse interstitial cirrhosis and bronchiolo-alveolar carcinoma.
His contributions to the humoral mechanisms of hypersplenism, collagen reabsorption, the role of cells and antibodies in allograft rejection, and antigenic differences between macrophages in mammals stand out.
Your book Mechanisms of Disease, published in 1961, it is one of only two medical texts written in Latin America that are part of the bibliography for medical students in the United States.
He wrote more than a hundred articles and about seventy scientific and popular books. Among them: The concept of disease: its evolution through history, 1988; principles of pathology, 1990; Science, patience and awareness, 1991; the old alchemist, 1993; Burke and Hare’s profession and other stories, 1996.
In addition, Recent advances in amebiasis, 1997; Microbes and diseases. Science for all collection, 2000; lay medical ethics, 2002; Some aspects of the ethical problems generated by the International Human Genome Program, 2004.
General history of science in Mexico in the 20th century, 2005; Nothing resists the corrosive action of work, in 2005; Five academic experiences and two appendices, in 2006; Health and sickness Y principles of pathology, the latter co-authored with López Corella E., both in 2007; Ten reasons to be a scientist, 2013.
Some of the various awards he received are: National Prize for Sciences and Arts 1974; Luis Elizondo and Miguel Otero awards, 1979; National Award for History and Philosophy of Medicine, 1995; José María Luis Mora Award, 2002; National University Award, 2006.
Juan Crisóstomo Doria Award for Humanities, 2016; doctor honoris causa by the Autonomous Universities of Yucatan, Puebla, Colima, Tamaulipas, the State of Mexico and the Michoacán University of San Nicolás de Hidalgo. Member of El Colegio Nacional, since 1980.
In 2019, at the FM “Raoul Fournier” Auditorium, Ruy Pérez Tamayo addressed medical students for the last time: “I have had a great time in my life, because all the time I have had a lot of fun; My wife accompanied me for many years, we were boyfriends since we were students here, we received each other, got married and worked together all our lives, in which she accompanied me for 58 years”.
“That was perhaps the most absolutely wonderful experience that I can remember in my entire college life. Thank you all for being here, you are my best memory”.