February 23, 2008



Brazilian physician who identified Trypanosoma cruzi as the casuative agent of American trypanosomiasis (Chagas disease) in 1909, while working at the Oswaldo Cruz Institute in Rio de janeiro.

Chagas’ legacy is unparalleled in the history of medicine - it is the only occasion in which an individual investigator has described the infection, its agent, its vector, its manifestations, its epidemiology, and some of the hosts of the pathogenic genus.

In 1912 Carlos Chagas received the Schaudinn Price, awarded every four years for the best work in the field of protozoology and tropical medicine in the world, by the "Institut für Schiffs und Tropenhygiene" in Hamburg (Germany). Up to then this honor had only been conferred to von Prowazek (1875–1915), eminent Austrian bacteriologist.

He was granted the Great Prize of the Pasteur Centenary Commemorative Exposition in Strasbourg (France) in 1922. In 1921 Chagas became the first Brazilian to be honored with the title of doctor honoris causa by Harvard University (USA), and later by the University of Paris (France).

He was several times nominated for the Nobel Prize - in 1913 and in 1921 and in two more occasions (according to some references), but never received the award. The reasons for this failure are probably related to the fierce political opposition that Chagas faced in Brazil.

Carlos Chagas headed the Oswaldo Cruz Institute after the death of its founder (1917) until his own death; and from 1920 until 1926 he also directed the Brazilian Department of Public Health.


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