Oscar Candia

Oscar A. Candia

In a June 2005 letter published in The Physiologist (48(3)) under “Senior Physiologists’ News,” Oscar A. Candia wrote:

“I am continuing with my scientific activities. I am a Professor of Ophthalmology and Professor of Physiology here at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York where I have been since 1968. I am also Vice-chairman and Director of Research in the Department of Ophthalmology.

“I am lucky to have three active R01s from the National Eye Institute, all related to the physiology of epithelia of the eye: the ciliary epithelium, the conjunctiva and the lens. I just received communication that this last project that I had for 31 years (EY0160) is going to be funded for at least another four years and possibly five. At this moment, I am reviewing the galleys of our latest paper in the American Journal of Physiology. In addition I am publishing in eye Journals such as Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences and Experimental Eye Research.

“During the last five years, I have developed collaborations with Dr. Chi-ho To of the Polytechnic University in Hong Kong, and with Dr. Rosana Gerometta of the School of Medicine of the Universidad Nacional del Nordeste (UNNE) in Corrientes, Argentina. I am originally from the Corrientes Province in Argentina, and because of it, it is very satisfying to have been able to develop basic science projects there, and interact with the excellent people that I have met at UNNE, as well as take advantage of bovine eyes, which are plentiful there, if little else.

 “Our work in Hong Kong and Corrientes has been presented in international meetings and published in first rate journals. This gives my collaborators enormous pride and sense of accomplishment.

“The performance of these projects also gives me the opportunity to travel and have a direct evaluation of the state of research and medical care in those countries. I am happy to report that US scientists are regarded as among the best in the world. Unfortunately, scientists in those countries do not have the same opinion of our government.

“Because of the beauty of the city and the very favorable exchange rate, Buenos Aires has been flooded with tourists and many international organizations are holding their meetings there. In this regard, the International Society of Eye Research has asked me to organize the XVII International Congress of Eye Research where we expect 800 scientists from around the world.

“As you can see I am busy. My advice to young physiologists is thus, to keep busy and look at the big picture. Modern techniques will give you more data than you can process. The role of the physiologist is to recognize and put together the important pieces of the puzzle.

“I was raised in a small town in Argentina with an Indian name: Curuzu Cuatia. I went to elementary school there, where my parents were the Principal and one of the teachers. In Argentina, High School and College were blended together and I finished College in Curuzu at age 17. From there I went to Buenos Aires to attend medical school at the University of Buenos Aires from where I graduated in 1959. Immediately after, I got married. I also got a job at the department of Biophysics as an Assistant (my real inclination) and as a Doctor in a hospital to support my family.

“Jose Zadunaisky, a very well known physiologist, came back from fellowships with E. J. Conway and H. Ussing and organized, in the Department of Biophysics a transport group that included Jorge Fischbarg, Mario Parisi, Ricardo Montoreano and Felisa Fisch.We published a note in Nature that opened the door to offers from abroad. In January of 1964, Zadunaisky, Fischbarg, Montoreano and I moved to Louisville, KY to organize, with the renowned physiologist Hugh Davson, the research laboratories of the Department of Ophthalmology. 

“With Davson, there was this young aggressive fellow, Laszlo Bito, who recently became a millionaire (and a book writer) because of his discovery of a derivative of prostaglandin to treat high intraocular pressure and glaucoma. Even at that time he would constantly talk about prostaglandins. Thus, another word of advice, be persistent, it may take 30 years to accomplish your goals. While in Louisville, I met two outstanding physiologists, William Brodsky and Warren Rhem. Bill, the nicest human being, and Warren an uncommonly smart and inquisitive person. 

“In 1968, Zadunaisky went to Yale, Fischbarg went to Chicago, Montoreano returned to Argentina, and I moved to New York. Eventually, Zadunaisky and Fischbarg also relocated to New York.”

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