Bernardo Houssay

Bernardo Alberto Houssay was born on April 10, 1887, in the city of Buenos Aires, near the Plaza de Mayo. His parents Alberto Houssay and Clara Lafont emigrated from France to Argentina around 1870.

In 1904 he graduated as a pharmacist from the School of Pharmacy, University of Buenos Aires, at the age of 17. And in 1910 he graduated as a doctor from the Faculty of Medicine, University of Buenos Aires. His thesis of 1911 earned him the Diploma of Honor.

Between 1915 and 1919 he worked at the National Bacteriological Institute (today the Malbrán Institute). There, he directed the Serum Department and participated in the National Campaign on viper antidotes in different provinces of the country. At the institute he met Dr. Salvador Mazza and María Angélica Catán, with whom he shared a passion for scientific research.

In 1919 he participated in the creation of the Institute of Physiology at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Buenos Aires, located at 4185 Costa Rica in the Palermo neighborhood. That year Houssay was appointed full professor of the Chair of Physiology, where he updated the study materials and thus turned it into a modern research center for the time. At the Institute, Houssay played an important role in the training of researchers and teachers.

At that time, a great camaraderie was established between Dr. Carlos Chagas, from the Oswaldo Cruz Institute in Rio de Janeiro, and Dr. Bernardo Houssay, from the Institute of Physiology in Buenos Aires, which lasted for several decades.

In 1920 María Angélica Catán graduated with a PhD in Chemistry from the Faculty of Exact, Physical and Natural Sciences of the University of Buenos Aires with her thesis on the Absorption of snake venoms by coal. That same year she married Bernardo Houssay.

In 1922 Houssay received the National Science Prize for his work “Physiological action of pituitary extracts”, a precursor to the research that later earned him the Nobel Prize. In his speech upon receiving the distinction, Houssay proclaimed: "True patriotism is in working correctly and submitting its results to world discussion, which will show the real importance of our studies; it is also in teaching the method and stimulating the love of science." to those around us; in not fearing to sacrifice hours and postpone their studies so that disciples can be formed; in stimulating criticism, in demanding respect and help for those who are valuable; in fighting to correct what is bad or deficient."

In 1925 Bernardo Houssay and María Angélica Catán, along with their children, moved to the house at 2790 Viamonte Street, in the Balvanera neighborhood (today the Bernardo Houssay House Museum - FECIC).

In 1934 he promoted the creation of the Argentine Association for the Progress of Sciences (AAPC) with the purpose of obtaining financing for researchers.


In 1935 he traveled to Europe where he gave lectures and was awarded the “Honoris Causa in Medicine” by the University of Paris.


In 1936 he traveled to the United States to receive the “Honoris Causa” from Harvard University. And he participated in the celebrations for the tercentenary of the creation of said university.


Around 1940, cutting-edge experimental research was being carried out at the “Dr. Houssay Institute”, comparable to the best in the United States, England or Germany.


Christiane Dosne, a young scientist who longed to work with the future Nobel Prize winner, traveled from Canada to research with Houssay.


In 1944 Bernardo Houssay participated in the creation of the Institute of Biology and Experimental Medicine (IBYME) together with Eduardo Braun Menéndez, Juan Treharne Lewis, Virgilio G. Foglia and Oscar Orías. Important research was carried out at IBYME on diabetes, hypertension, endocrinology and pharmacology.


In 1947 Dr. Bernardo Houssay won the “Nobel Prize in Medicine” for his research and discoveries on the role played by the pituitary gland in regulating the amount of sugar in the blood. This advance was fundamental in the fight against diabetes disease.

In 1958 he participated in the creation of the National Council for Scientific and Technical Research (CONICET), an institution that he presided over until his death in 1971. In this organization he promoted the creation of the category of full-time researcher, convinced that it was necessary for researchers have an economic support to dedicate themselves full-time to research in science. “I have always believed and persist in believing that the future of the country depends on the University, (...) the global trend is to make research a function in charge of the official institutions of each country.”


Dr. Bernardo Alberto Houssay developed an extraordinary career as a teacher and researcher, being one of the main promoters of science in Argentina.


In the words of Dr. Houssay: "Since research is searching for something that was unknown, I think that teaching should be based on research. It is universally proven that the greatest teachers are active researchers. Only the researcher can have his own judgment about what it teaches and contribute to making the country a scientific power.” (Speech at the AAPC. 1945).


In commemoration of his figure, the day of his birth, April 10, is celebrated as the day of the scientific researcher in Argentina.


The house that housed the Houssay family from 1925 to 1971 was converted into a Museum. The different environments were suitable for preserving his writings, reserving a room especially for the exhibition of his works, awards and decorations. Among them is the replica of the Nobel Prize medal with which Dr. Houssay was awarded in 1947. Books, letters, photos, brochures and medals were also classified, and efforts were made to preserve the library as Houssay had it. used, including all the files with their original cards.


The Nobel Prize winner's house and personal archive were donated to the Foundation for Education, Science and Culture (FECIC) with the aim of promoting his figure, disseminating his values and his professional and academic achievements. The Houssay House was declared a National Historic Site in 1999 (Decree 349/99).


Currently, the House Museum exhibits a permanent exhibition that includes the Nobel library and two rooms where his decorations, personal objects and historical documents are displayed. The exhibition can be visited by the general public, and guided tours are also scheduled with educational institutions. It also consists of an auditorium used by the Scientific Dissemination Center of the House Museum. As previously reported, it is located at 2790 Viamonte Street in the Balvanera neighborhood, one block from Av. Pueyrredón and two blocks from Av. Córdoba, city of Buenos Aires.