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Hispanic and Latinx Scientists

Santiago Ramón y Cajal (1852-1934)

Original photo is anonymous although published by Clark University in 1899. Restoration by Garrondo, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Santiago Ramón y Cajal was neuroscientist and pathologist, born in May 1852 in the village of Petilla, in the region of Aragon in northeast Spain. His early education included apprenticeships with both shoemakers and barbers, however his dream was to become an artist. He eventually enrolled in the medical school at Zaragoza, and upon graduation was drafted to become a medial officer in Cuba. 

He began teaching anatomy and conducting research in 1875. His career included positions in Valencia, Barcelona, and eventually Madrid, where he was appointed professor of Histology and Pathological Anatomy at the University of Madrid.

He and Camillo Golgi received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1906, with Ramón y Cajal thereby becoming the first person of Spanish origin to win a scientific Nobel Prize. His original investigations of the microscopic structure of the brain made him a pioneer of modern neuroscience. Hundreds of his drawings illustrating the delicate arborizations ("tree growing") of brain cells are still in use for educational and training purposes.