Monday, March 28, 2011

Colombians Honored in Spain

Manuel Patarroyo
Manuel Patarroyo, a Colombian scientist who has worked to develop an artificial vaccine for malaria, has received the Principe de Viana award from the Spanish province of Navarra

From what I've read, Patarroyo is a pioneer and his work is considered ingenious, but controversial - and, so far of limited results. Altho Patarroyo says his vaccine has been effective in monkeys and that artificial vaccines could be developed for many other diseases, 

Malaria infects some 225 million people every year, and kills close to one million. But nobody's ever developed an effective vaccine. That's because the disease is caused not by a virus or bacteria, but a far more complex eukariotic parasite. Even tho Patarroyo donated his vaccine to the World Health Organization, the WHO has not considered it effective enough to use. Others are also working to produce a synthetic malaria vaccine.

Nobody doubts Patarroyo's dedication and selflessness. However, some other Colombian researchers have asked whether the Colombian government has given him too much funding, for efforts which haven't yet produced concrete results. 

Also, less than a week ago, Juan Gabriel Vasquez, a young Colombian novelist, won the Alfaguara prize for his book 'The Noise of things falling,' (El ruido de las cosas al caer), which starts out with the only-in-Colombia saga of Pablo Escobar's escaped hippopotamuses. I unfortunately haven't read any of Vasquez's novels, but they sound interesting - dealing with history, Colombia's violence, the drug trade and difficult moral decisions. A previous novel, The Informers, dealt with left over secrets in Colombia from World War II.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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