The woman who created the heel prick test for babies

Gabrielle Morreale. / ideal

With the science of women

She is considered one of the founders of modern endocrinology in Spain | He studied Chemistry at the University of Granada | He also investigated the prevention of goiter

Research with impact. In the field and in the laboratory. Visiting the Alpujarras in Granada and other Spanish lands. Gabriella Morreale (Milan, April 7, 1930 – Madrid, December 4, 2017), chemist, is considered one of the founders of modern endocrinology in Spain. It is said that her vocation was awakened when she was little, playing with her mother’s microscope… What did her research bring? Does the heel prick test they do on newborns tell you anything? Morreale is qualified as the person who introduced this test in Spain.

The name of this scientist is linked to the University of Granada. He studied and investigated there in its initial phase. Later, he gave her an extraordinary tribute in 2020. Her name is not well known, but she was described as an exceptional scientist when it was very difficult to be a researcher (male or female, even more so) . The thing of becoming extraordinary has been a pipe dream many times. Morreale has been described as a world authority on the consequences of iodine deficiency and the action of thyroid hormones on fetal brain development. Remember when you take this iodine, that it is a woman who investigated and who is at the origin of this measurement. Since 1990, the World Health Organization has recognized the consumption of iodine during pregnancy and infancy as a right.

The heel prick test to detect congenital hypothyroidism in newborns currently prevents about 150 cases of mental disability per year. These works, developed in the seventies of the last century, were preceded by others on the prevention of goiter and cretinism in mountain areas deficient in iodine, such as Las Alpujarras or Las Hurdes.

He was born in Milan in 1930. He graduated in chemical sciences from the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Granada, according to the institution itself when he was honored. He did it in just four years, earning the Extraordinary Career Award.

Morreale carried out her doctoral thesis at the university institution of Granada and, after a stay at the University of Leiden, she became a member of the Center for Biomedical Research as scientific manager of the Higher Council for Scientific Research. She did it with her husband Francisco Escobar, also a scientist, in the late fifties. He has developed most of his professional career at the Alberto Sols Biomedical Research Institute (IIB-CSIC-UAM), a joint center of CSIC and the Autonomous University of Madrid, as evidenced by the awarding of the National Prize from the university edition to a biography of this pioneering scientist, one of whose authors is María Jesús Obregón, a disciple of Morreale.

He has held various positions in scientific institutes and societies. He worked until he was eighty. He has received numerous awards for his work.

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