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Ramón de la Fuente to receive honorary degree

April 05, 2013

Juan Ramón de la Fuente, renown faculty member at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), will receive the Doctor of Humane Letters honoris causa at the Arizona State University undergraduate commencement ceremony on May 9 in Sun Devil Stadium.

De la Fuente’s career has resulted in many diverse accomplishments that have strengthened Mexico’s health, higher education and scientific research systems. These activities have led to national and international recognition of his leadership in both academic and public service.

After being appointed professor at UNAM’s medical school and director of the university program for health research, he was nominated vice-chancellor for science in 1989, dean of the medical school in 1991 and rector of the university in 1999, a position for which he was unanimously reappointed for a second term in 2003.

In this capacity, he established new centers and research facilities, implemented new undergraduate curricula, updated graduate programs and promoted new models for education using the latest information and communication technologies. This helped meet the growing demand for access to higher education within the country.

Under his rectorship several new research centers were created from diverse disciplines such as genomics, applied physics, earth and the environment, as well as the humanities including education. Facilities were built and staffed outside of México City aimed to decentralize the campus. De la Fuente also fostered affirmative action programs in support of gender equality and scholarships for minority groups. These efforts centered on behalf of indigenous students.

Besides authoring nearly 250 scientific papers, De la Fuente has edited 17 books on topics related to health, education and scientific research. His research on alcohol abuse led to the design of a tool of universal validity for the reliable identification of this problem from its early stages. This tool has been was adopted by the World Health Organization, the International Labor Organization and the U.K. Institutes for Clinical Excellence.  

De la Fuente was the Minister of Health of México between 1994 and 1999. As such, he created the National Commission for Protection of Patients Rights. He won a legal struggle to incorporate generic drugs to the market place in México. The health reform he led has benefited 16 million Mexicans who were incorporated into the health system.

He currently directs the seminar for global studies at the University of México and sits on diverse committees and boards.