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versión impresa ISSN 0327-9545

Biocell v.29 n.3 Mendoza ago./dic. 2005


Dra. Haydée Judith Viloria de Castejón (1938-2005)

At the age of 67, and with an active and promising scientific career ahead, my wife Dra. and Prof. Haydée Viloria de Castejón left us for ever victim of a fulminant septic shock and multiorgan dysfunction. Dra. Castejón graduated as Medical Doctor in 1962 at the Faculty of Medicine of Zulia University in Maracaibo, Venezuela. She initiated her postdoctoral studies on histochemistry of nerve tissue at the Venezuelan Institute of Scientific Research (IVIC. Caracas .Venezuela) under de direction of distinguished pathological scientist Dr. Luis Carbonell, and lately at the Brain Research Institute and Zoology Department of University of California. Los Angeles (1962- 1964) headed by Profs. Jan Brown and Fritiof Sjöstrand. She came back to Venezuela and began her research program on histochemistry of proteglycan in the vertebrate central nervous system at the Clinical Research Institute. Faculty of Medicine of Zulia University (1965-1972), founded by her Professor and Mentor, Dr. Américo Negrette, acting her as a cofounder of this institution with a group of joung Venezuelan investigators. In 1972, she moved to newly created Biological Research Institute of the same Faculty, that She and her Husband, Dr. Orlando Castejón founded to pioneer and promote the basic biomedical research at the Faculty of Medicine. During most four decades (1972-2004) she systematically dedicated to work on light and electron microscopy of proteoglycan on nerve and glial cells of most vertebrates, including man. She in collaboratioin with her husband published the first demonstration of nerve cell proteglycan in the most pretigious international journals as Acta Histochemica, Journal of Histochemistry and Cytochemistry, Histochemie, Cell and Molecular Biology, Journal of Histochemistry and Cytochemistry, Journal Submicroscopic Cytology and Pathology, Revista de Microscopía Electronica, Biocell, Journal of Neuroscience Research, International Journal of Developmental Neuroscience, Neuroscience Letters, Scanning Microscopy, Histology and Histopathology, Revista Española de Neurología, Trabajos del Instituto Cajal, and and Brain Injury.
Simultaneosly she developed another program on applied and fundamental research in infant malnutrition(1990-2005), considered as a priority public health problem in developing countries. She organized an interdisciplinary group of more than 15 specialists working at the Chiquinquirá Hospital de Maracaibo, where they organized an Infantil Malnutrition Service for treatment and research of infant patients.Lately, a Research Laboratory on Infant Malnutrition belonging to the Biological Research Institute of our Faculty of Medicine was organized at the Hospital of Pediatric Specialties of Maracaibo, mainly dedicated to research, and take care of undernourished infant patients. In this laboratory, a fundamental and clinical program on infant malnutrition program was established She and her coworkers published numerous original papers on Nutritional Neuroscience, Anales Venezolanos de Nutrición, Archivos Latinoamericanos de Nutrición, Investigación Clinica. She carried out simultaneously these microscopic and nutritional programs until her recent death.
She was a hard and very honest worker, very modest in her own evaluation, but extremely demanding and critical on the interpretation of scientific results, and also with her numerous young investigators that she academically formed. She also was one of the most influential neurohistochemist in Latin America by her seminal insights on proteoglycan histochemistry , and infant malnutrition.
I always remember her enthusiastically discussing scientific data, reading and reviewing own and foreign manuscripts, and making tutorial teaching. She possessed a very special gift, the ability to fascinate people with her performance and advise. She made highly constructive use of this gift at the Institute of Biological Research, that nowadays has her name, and that of her husband. She was able to make people enthusiastic, to inspire them, and to tie them in common goals. She also was very well known by their catholic internalized and embodied principles, acting as an adviser of many people who demand orientation and behavior in every day life. With her death the venezuelan and international community has lost a leading and respected colleague, and a great human value.
She was recipient of numerous national and international academic awards such as Orden Andres Bello, Jesús Enrique Lossada, Creative Woman Award, Francisco Solano Nava Award, Fundacite Award by Scientific Merits, and nominated to Unesco Women in Science Award. She participate in the foundation of Venezuela and Latinoamerican Microscopical Societies, Iberoamerican Society of Histochemistry and Cytochemistry.
She was truly a brilliant and creative mind and woman, who has the ability to work in many realms. In this regard was truly a Renaissance Woman.
Professors Irene Dunia and Ennio Luccio Benedetti (Institute Jacob Monod. Faculty of Science. University of Paris) said" She was an exceptional person from the scientific and human point of view. The grace and faith that inspire to Haydée gave us a great hope in difficult moments in our life. Her prolonged physical suffering that she supported during her long disease enriched even more her spirit and faith.".
Professor of Neurobiology Nico Van Gelder (Department of Chemistry. Queen's University. Ontario. Canada) said: "I feel privileged to have known such a terrific person. I will always carry with me the legacy of her incredible warmth, her enormous hospitality towards me and the way she (and you) always have made me feel so welcome and worthy as a scientific collaborator. My "Venezuelan Connection" has been one of the great highlights of my scientific and personal life and Haydée certainly was very much instrumental in making it so. She is a part of my life memories and I will never forget her. May she rest in peace".
Dr. Felix Tapia (Institute of Biomedicine .Central University. Caracas. Venezuela), said: We admired Haydée by her pioneering and permanent scientific work in our country".
Dra. Odelsa Ancheta (Electron Microscopy Laboratory. Habana. Cuba), said: "I was her friend and colleague for several decades. I feel privileged to have her close friendship, dedication ,and love".
Drs Gloria and Raimundo Villegas ( Institute of Advance Studies. IDEA..Simón Bolivar University. Caracas. Venezuela) said:We are calling to you Orlando to express our deep sorrow for the death of Haydée. She reached the conspìcous level of scientific research in neurobiology and malnutrition in our country. She also was an excellent wife and mother.
Dra. Gladys Maestre (Laboratory of Neuroscience. Biological Research Institute. Maracaibo. Venezuela) said: She was co-founder of our Biological research Institute, a distinguished scientist in neuroscience and infantile malnutrition. She left a vacancy very difficult to fill.
Dr.Benjamin Hidalgo (Institute of Biomedicine and Applied Sciences. East University (UDO). Cumaná .Venezuela) said: We remember her by her invaluable support and contribution to the research programs and projects of our Institution. She was a great professor and an excellent research worker"
Dr. Juan B. Kouri: ( Cinvestad, Mexico): I appreciated and love her very much. She will be always in our thinkings. Persons like her never are absent"
Drs. Ernesto y Leonor Bonilla (Clinical Research Institute. Faculty of Medicine. Maracaibo. Venezuela) said: "The high scientific productivity of Haydée is an example for future student generations"
Dr. Dwighr Arrieche (Institute of Biomedicine and Applied Sciences.East University (UDO) Cumaná . Venezuela)
Dr. Alan Castellano (CIASEM General Secretary): La Dra.Castejón founded with her husband Dr. Orlando Castejón the Biological Research Institute of our Faculty of Medicine. She was an egregious investigator, and teacher of several generations of venezuelan scientists that today we feel with deep pain her death.. She left a marvelous masterpiece that will perdure among us, the genuine heritors of her art and science.
Dr. Juan Pablo Bozzini (President Microscopy Society of Argentina) said:"The lost of a professional and scientist like Dra. Haydée Viloria de Castejón is a terrific vacancy for the hispanoamerican community which is very difficult to substitute, and affecting the development of experimental biological sciences in South America. That our efforts be guided by her, and that her examples orientate us for a better science in our countries. It will be the best homage to her."

Dr. Orlando J. Castejón
Emeritus Professor of Neuroscience,
Cell Biology and Electron Microscopy
Doctor Honoris Causa. Zulia University

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