Biography of Carlos Monge-Mendrano
Carlos Monge-Medrano, the founder of the Peruvian school of high altitude medicine, is one of the great names in Peruvian medicine. He graduated from San Marcos University San Fernando Medical School in 1911. In 1912 he spent a year in England studying at the School of Tropical Medicine and returned to Peru to gain his Ph.D. in 1913.
Initially he worked on Leishmaniasis, Carrión's disease, leprosy and other tropical illnesses. In 1921 the Cambridge physiologist Joseph Bancroft (1872-1947) came to Peru leading an Anglo-American expedition to study the physiological characteristics that let human beings acclimatize to live at high altitude environments. This survey published as a paper two years later aroused an interest in searching for the biology and pathology of the Andean People.
He commenced his work on chronic mountain sickness in 1925, organising the first medical expedition to the mining towns, La Oroya and Morococha, in the Peruvian Andes in 1927. This resulted in his famous monograph in 1928, La Enfermedad de los Andes.
In 1931 Monge was appointed professor of medicine at San Fernando Medical School and he founded the National Institute of Andean Biology (Instituto de Biología y Patología Andina) and became its director in 1934. He remained professor of medicine until he retired in 1957. In 1935 he became a physician-in-chief at the hospital "Arzobispo Loayza" and dean of the medical faculty of San Fernando.
Besides high altitude medicine, Monge-Medrano studied the problem of the coca-leaf chewing. He showed that coca-leaf chewing played a role in aiding the metabolism in high-altitude populations.
During the last 25 years of his career he attended a large number of international medical congresses. From 1933 to 1936 he was president of the Natrional Academy of Medicine. During his final years he suffered with Paget’s disease.
Carlos Monge Mendrano's pioneering work in high altitude medicine was continued by his son, Carlos Monge Cassinelli (1921-2006).
- "We have a duty and obligation: to study Andeans. The universality of the urgent problems demands the collaboration of all: physicians and physiologists, anthropologists and physicists, psychologists and hygienists, legislators and sociologists. . . . This is not labor for one man, not even for one generation."