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Official Master > Master projects

Sara Lugo Márquez
Ciencia, historia e ideología en la Cataluña del siglo XX. El Instituto Ravetllat-Pla en Sudamérica entre 1924 y 1936
Supervisor/s: Jorge Molero Mesa

The emergence of serology at the turn of the 20th century played a crucial role in the establishment of a laboratory culture in medicine as well as in the concurrent legitimizing of bacteriological hygienists. These bacteriological researchers’ main concern was the production of sera and vaccines against infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis, which was one of the main causes of death at the time. Polemics regarding antituberculosis vaccination in Cataluña was led by the promoters of the BCG (carried out by Calmette and Guérin, followers of Pasteur’s principles) and the Jaime Ferrán i Clúa´s (1852-1929) Anti-alfa vaccine (based in their own heterodox theory). Nevertheless, the veterinarian Joaquim Ravetllat i Estech proposed a heterodox theory about tuberculosis bacillus variability that set the foundation for Ramón Plá i Armengol to put on the market two anti-tuberculosis products: hemo-antitoxin and Suero Ravellat-Plá. Indeed, after Ravellat’s death, Plá founded an Institute in order to continue both the production of these medicines and the research pertaining to the etio-pathology of tuberculosis. The Institute Ravellat-Plá was thus founded on 1923 as a private company which subsequently marketed its products in approximately twenty countries, mainly in latin-america, using innovating marketing strategies which led to the creation of a great scientific and commercial international network. Meanwhile, it survived five successive political periods in Spain maintaining its validity until 1980. Ramón Plá i Armengol (1880-1958) was a medical doctor that actively participated in the campaign against tuberculosis in Catalonia while maintaining his politic militancy (he belonged to the Partido Socialista Obrero Español and the Unión Socialista de Cataluña). Indeed, the combination between his political and scientific points of view allowed him to put forward a new perspective regarding the fight against tuberculosis that stated that every patient should be considered consumptive, and general doctors should be able to make an early diagnosis of the disease without holding the patient responsible for it. In conclusion, Ramón Plá i Armengol was able to create society and therefore market, through two profitable products supported by a heterodox theory that integrated his principles and ideology.