Manuel Elkin Patarroyo
Manuel Elkin Patarroyo is a Colombian pathologist who made the world's first attempt of synthetic vaccine for malaria, a disease transmitted by mosquitoes that affects millions of people in tropical and subtropical regions, including parts of the Americas, Asia, and Africa. The vaccine was evaluated in clinical trials carried out by the WHO in Gambia, Tanzania and Thailand, and had mixed results- Susan Aldridge, Magic Molecules: How Drugs Work , p. 89. Despite the relatively long trial periods and the number of studies carried out, it is still not known how the SPf66 vaccine confers immunity; it therefore remains an unlikely solution to malaria. This vaccine candidate was first developed in 1987. Today, more than 22 years after, it has not been used neither proven to be useful.
Patarroyo studied medicine at the National University of Colombia, received a scholarship to Yale University, and subsequently received his PhD from Rockefeller University in New York.
He was working on improving the vaccine at the Instituto Nacional de Inmunologia based in the Hospital San Juan de Dios in Bogota, Colombia. Unfortunately, lack of government funding and mismanagement led to the bankruptcy of the Hospital San Juan de Dios and therefore to the relocation of his lab. After having worked for more than two decades at the Hospital San Juan de Dios, Dr. Patarroyo could not deter the demise of this very important Colombian teaching hospital.