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Chapter 20 : Microbiology in the Andes: Ancient and Unexpected

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Abstract:

Thanks to the investigations by the Ecuadorian physician and scientist Dr. Byron Núñez Freile, I learned of a surprisingly high level of scientific development that took place long ago in a remote region of the world. Quito, the present-day capital of Ecuador, is nestled amidst the high Andes and was the northern capital of the Inca empire. It was conquered by the Spaniards in 1534. In this exceedingly distant land, Jesuits established a college within a year of their coming in the late sixteenth century. By 1622, they founded one of the oldest universities in the Americas, the Universidad de San Gregorio Magno. This was earlier than the founding of Harvard, which happened in 1642. With the passing years, the two universities may not have enjoyed a parallel development, but early on they were likely of comparable quality. Soon, San Gregorio became a major institution with a most impressive library of 16,000 volumes, the largest in South America at the time. In its first thirty years of existence, the university granted 160 master’s degrees and 120 doctorates, mostly in philosophy and theology. Nevertheless, the library holdings also included numerous scientific and medical treatises.

Citation: Schaechter E. 2016. Microbiology in the Andes: Ancient and Unexpected, p 84-86. In Schaechter M, In the Company of Microbes: 10 Years of Small Things Considered. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555819606.ch20
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Citation: Schaechter E. 2016. Microbiology in the Andes: Ancient and Unexpected, p 84-86. In Schaechter M, In the Company of Microbes: 10 Years of Small Things Considered. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555819606.ch20
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Façade of the church La Compañía de Jesús, or the Company of Jesus (better known as Jesuits) in Quito, Ecuador, completed in 1765.

Credit: Tara McGovern.

Citation: Schaechter E. 2016. Microbiology in the Andes: Ancient and Unexpected, p 84-86. In Schaechter M, In the Company of Microbes: 10 Years of Small Things Considered. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555819606.ch20
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