Rodolfo Robles

Guatemala PMC (identifier) PMID (identifier)
Rodolfo Robles
BornJanuary 14, 1878
Quetzaltenango, Guatemala
DiedNovember 8, 1939
Guatemala City, Guatemala
Known forDescribing the relationship between Onchocerca volvulus infection (the causative agent of onchocerciasis, or river blindness) and ocular disease.
Spouse(s)Julia Isabel Herrera Dorion de Robles
ChildrenRodolfo Robles Herrera
Parent(s)Francisco Robles de Leon, Manuela Trinidad Valverde y Alvarez

Rodolfo Robles (1878–1939) was a Guatemalan physician and philanthropist. In 1915, he was the first to describe onchocerciasis in Latin America,[1] which was known and widespread on the African continent and first described in 1890 by Sir Patrick Manson.[2][3] Robles was the first person to describe the etiology of the disease, correctly attributing it to infection with Onchocerca volvulus parasites[4]. He discerned the etiology from clinical observations among coffee plantation workers in Guatemala, extracting the parasitic worm from a nodule on a child's face.[2][4] The disease was later referred to as "Roble's disease" in his honor.[4] In the 1930s, Robles also played a role in establishing the first public health campaigns to address onchocerciasis in the Central Endemic Zone of Guatemala, which involved sending teams to endemic areas to provide surgical services and perform nodulectomies.[3]


Rodolfo Robles was born in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala.[5] As a young man, he was sent to school in the United States, returning to complete high school at the Instituto Nacional para Varones de Occidente (INVO) in 1894.[4][6] He completed pre-university studies at Rouen, in France, before studying medicine in Paris and earning his degree from the University of Paris in 1904.[4][6] He performed research at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, where he obtained the Ordre national de la Légion d'honneur (French: "National Order of the Legion of Honour") in the degree of Grand Officier (Grand Officer).

Robles married Julia Isabel Herrera Dorión in 1914,[5] and had one child, Rodolfo Robles Herrera, born in Paris in 1928.

He served as a professor in the Faculty of Medical Sciences for many years.[4]

Honors & Tributes

Robles has been honored in Guatemala and México with many schools and hospitals named in his honor, including a hospital in his hometown of Quetzaltenango as well as a hospital focused on eye and ear health in Guatemala City.[7]

In 1955, the Order of Rodolfo Robles was established as award to recognize physicians for outstanding service in the field of public health.[8]

A statue of his likeness can be found outside the old Faculty of Medical Sciences at the Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala.[4][6][9]

A bridge over the Suchiate River, which forms the border between the Mexican state of Chiapas and the Guatemalan department of San Marcos, has been named Puente Rodolfo Robles in his honor.

See also


  1. ^ Fee, W. T. (September 1919). "THE EPIDEMIC OF FILARIA-ONCHOCERCA". California State Journal of Medicine. 17 (9): 327–328. ISSN 0093-402X. PMC 1594172. PMID 18737994.
  2. ^ a b Who named it
  3. ^ a b Klein, Robert; Richards, Frank; Rios, Dalila; Crovella Valdez, Carol Guillermina; Cupp, Ed; Domínguez, Alfredo; Hassan, Hassan K.; de Leon, Oscar; Diaz Espinoza, Carlos Enrique; Monroy, Zoraida Morales; Eberhard, Mark (2015-12-09). "One Hundred Years After Its Discovery in Guatemala by Rodolfo Robles, Onchocerca volvulus Transmission Has Been Eliminated from the Central Endemic Zone". The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. 93 (6): 1295–1304. doi:10.4269/ajtmh.15-0364. ISSN 0002-9637. PMC 4674249. PMID 26503275.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Diccionario histórico biográfico de Guatemala. Rojas Lima, Flavio. (1. ed.). Guatemala: Fundación para la Cultura y el Desarrollo, Asociación de Amigos del País. 2004. ISBN 99922-44-01-1. OCLC 58734025.CS1 maint: others (link)
  5. ^ a b "Rodolfo Robles Valverde". Facultad de Medicina - Universidad Francisco Marroquín (in Spanish). Retrieved 2020-06-18.
  6. ^ a b c "Rodolfo Robles". WikiGuate (in Spanish). 2015-02-27. Retrieved 2020-06-18.
  7. ^ "Rodolfo Robles". Hago mi Tarea (in Spanish). 2010-08-11. Retrieved 2020-06-18.
  8. ^ Guatemala: Order of Rodolfo Robles
  9. ^ "Monumento al Doctor Rodolfo Robles Valverde". Retrieved 2020-06-18.