Since 1989, National Hispanic Heritage Month has been observed from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 to honor the histories, contributions and cultures of Hispanic and Latino Americans. This year, we invite you to learn about some of the visionary Hispanic inventors who have been inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame® (NIHF) for their work in advancing heart health.
Hall of Famer Miguel Ondetti is one of the inventors behind captopril, the first of a new class of drugs known as angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors.
Having earned a doctorate degree in chemistry from the Universidad de Buenos Aires, Ondetti began working at the Squibb Institute for Medical Research in Argentina in 1957, then took on a position at Squibb’s New Jersey laboratory in 1960. Here, he began collaborating with NIHF Inductee David Cushman. After spending years attempting to synthesize captopril, the two scientists found success in 1974. Captopril became the first medical treatment to establish the angiotensin hormone’s role in hypertension, and this opened up a new field of medical research into ACE inhibition. Ondetti’s work has saved many lives, helping to both postpone kidney failure in diabetics and reduce the rate of fatalities among patients with congestive heart failure.
NIHF Inductee Julio Palmaz invented the intravascular stent, transforming cardiovascular medicine.
Palmaz earned his medical degree from Argentina’s Universidad Nacional de La Plata in 1971 and then began practicing vascular radiology at San Martin University Hospital in La Plata. He later practiced at the University of Texas Health and Science Center at San Antonio, where he developed the first balloon-expandable stent between 1978 and 1985. Palmaz accomplished this after attending a presentation by Andreas Gruentzig, the celebrated cardiologist who completed the first balloon angioplasty procedure on a coronary artery. Gruentzig’s presentation inspired Palmaz to develop a scaffold to hold blood vessels open. This invention has benefited patients across the world. Annually, more than 1 million people undergo stent procedures to repair their arteries.
Hall of Famer Alejandro Zaffaroni invented a bandage for administering drugs, a groundbreaking advance in controlled drug delivery methods.
After graduating with a bachelor’s degree from the Universidad de la República in Montevideo, Uruguay, in 1945, Zaffaroni came to the U.S. and earned a doctorate in biochemistry from the University of Rochester in 1949. His early work, including his initial concepts for transdermal patches, has widely influenced further research and developments in innovative drug delivery systems, including determining what drugs can be absorbed through the skin and identifying those that can be safely ingested or inhaled. With contributions that have made many important products and treatments possible, from glaucoma treatments and progesterone contraceptive devices to patches for motion sickness, Zaffaroni is considered one of the premier biochemists for drug discovery and development.
Learn More About NIHF Inductees Who Have Changed the World
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