Joaquín Luco Valenzuela (1913-2002)

Joaquín Luco Valenzuela (1913-2002)

Joaquín Luco went to study medicine in theUniversidad de Chilein 1929. Walking little sensed that theirs was not the medical practice but research. That way - in those years almost unexplored - took him in 1931 to join as AssistantAd honoremin the newLaboratorio de Fisiologíathe newly founded School of Medicine of thePontifical Catholic University, in charge of the catalan scientist Jaime Pi Suñer.

At the end of his career, between 1936 and 1937, Luco held a residency in United States, in the lab having physiologist Walter B. Cannon in Harvard University. There established a close friendship with who was his guardian direct, the Mexican scientist Arturo Rosenblueth.A his return to Chile in 1939, and with only 26 years, was hired by the Chancellor of the Pontifical Catholic University, Monseñor Carlos Casanueva, Director of theSchool of medicinea position he served for 10 years. From this position he gave an experimental school creating an environment conducive to the emergence of experimental biology laboratories.

The research conducted by Luco was characterized by its originality, reaching international standards and being welcomed in prestigious scientific magazines, reason why is recognized aspioneer of neuroscience in Chile. He tackled problems such as the integrity of the nervous system and developed an experimental approach to study learning and memory, using as a modelThe cockroachBlatta orientalis. These works were precursors in a promising field and were published in the journalNature.

Joaquín Luco was protagonist of the process of scientific institutionalization in Chile to the interior of the Catholic University, but also participated actively in the Universidad de Chile, Universidad Austral and the creation ofCONICYT. He was a member of theSociety of biology of Santiagoparticipating in the policy that would give new impetus along with Eduardo Cruz-Coke andAlejandro Lipschutz.

Its leadership position and its defence of freedom took special strength to condemn theconsequences of the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet in the scientific communityand University. Paradoxically, he was recognized with the national prize of Sciences in 1975, during this same period. In 1981 he retired from the academic activity. He died a day after 89 years, July 19 of 2002.

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