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La Familia Gilman (continued)

Best Investment Ever

Hugo Garcia, MD, PhD ’02

Around 1988, I was doing my MD thesis work on cysticercosis—a neurological infection caused by a tapeworm that spends part of its lifespan encysted in pig muscles—at the time when Bob was starting new research on the subject.

We knew that cysticercosis caused a significant number of epilepsy cases in Peru, but no one knew how important it actually was or how we might be able to prevent or best treat new cases. Bob spoke to my thesis advisor, and then contacted me to see whether I’d be interested in helping him. At the time, research was quite an unusual activity in Peru, so it was an interesting prospect.

Bob intrigued me in many ways—it takes an out-of-the-box personality to go to a developing country, find your staff there and devote your life to infectious disease research. Bob behaves as a Peruvian, but he doesn’t speak as a Peruvian. Let’s put it this way: His Spanish was a driving force for us to learn English.

But he’s also influenced me in many ways. When you’re a junior researcher, you usually begin working under other people, doing their research for them. But the process with Bob was completely different—with that first project, he asked me to lead. He even asked me to write the paper, which was something completely unheard of. He never behaved like a boss, more like an equal.

Now I’m a full-time researcher and professor of microbiology at Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, and it’s all Bob’s fault that I ended up here. Through my work with students—who I’m training with Bob’s methods—we have discovered an antiparasitic treatment that can reduce the number of seizures in individuals with cysticercosis. We’ve also developed better ways to diagnose this condition so patients can start treatments faster.

I’ve continued Bob’s tradition of sending students abroad for training so they can come back and lead. It’s a very expensive investment, but it’s paying off with these developments and interventions that are improving the health and welfare of this country.

Comments

This forum is closed
  • Rony Colanzi

    Santa Cruz-Bolivia 05/28/2012 09:05:05 PM

    Since I have known Dr Gilman, I think more of humans. He is an example of generosity and love for others. In Bolivia, we carry forward the implementation of laboratory research on tuberculosis and Chagas. Thank you very much for a life devoted to science, with such dedication.

  • Rafael Coria

    Mexico City 05/29/2012 10:17:25 PM

    Ha sido un gran honor conocer al Dr. Robert Guilman, su buen humor, sus criticas inteligentes y su humanismo son ejemplo para quienes anhelan hacer investigacion en beneficio de nuestros semejantes. From Mexico City to Peru.

  • Vita Cama

    Atlanta, GA. USA 06/14/2012 09:58:48 AM

    I am perhaps one of the elder member of the Gilman family, preceeding the times of training funds. We have worked continuously since he became my mentor in 1988. Bob's always evolving science skills and his human values have made a strong impact in my life. I am very grateful that Emico asked me to bring a pig in my car to Cayetano!

  • Brian W. Simpson

    Editor, Johns Hopkins Public Health 06/14/2012 11:13:13 AM

    That sounds like a great story, Vita. Please tell us more.

  • alberto saavedra

    america continente 07/01/2012 09:36:08 AM

    "Todo arte o palabra viene del pueblo y va hacia el" el conocimiento y las palabras del pueblo han brindado a Bob las guias de su invalorable sabiduria dejando sus huellas y su nombre hacia las futuras generaciones que lo seguiran con orgullo y felicidad muchas gracias "maestro" por sus esfuerzos y profunda perseverancia los multiples destinos lo recordaran con mucho carino

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