Santiago Ramón y Cajal

Santiago Ramón y Cajal is generally known as the father of neuroscience . He won the Nobel Prize in Physiology / Medicine in 1906 for his theory which became known as the neuron doctrine . Considered one of the greatest scientists of the 20th century.

Personal information

  • When was he born: 05/01/1852
  • Where he was born: Petilla de Aragón, Spain
  • When he died: 10/17/1934
  • Where he died: Madrid, Spain

Who was Santiago Ramón y Cajal?

Santiago Ramón y Cajal was an important histologist of Spanish origin who contributed the doctrine of the neuron . Regarded as one of the best modern scientists, and known as the father of modern neuroscience .

  • What did
  • Biography of Santiago Ramón y Cajal
  • Death
  • Contributions of Santiago Ramón y Cajal
  • Personality
  • Physical characteristics
  • Family
  • Importance of Santiago Ramón y Cajal
  • Plays
  • Phrases by Santiago Ramón y Cajal
  • Acknowledgments
  • Presence in popular culture

What did

Santiago Ramón y Cajal was the doctor who founded modern neurobiology , he was the first scientist who managed to demonstrate with great precision the nervous system of the human body, the existence of neurons and the connection between them. He studied inflammation of the muscles both anatomically and from a microbiological point of view . Saw neuron as a unit of processing of information where connected and shaped the dynamic networks to perform the basic functions of the human body.

It showed that nerve tissue consisted of cells and applied one of the most important methods of staining with salts of silver to be applied to samples of nervous tissue . I study the brain and cerebellum , the spinal cord, the medulla oblongata, and the retina .

Biography of Santiago Ramón y Cajal

Santiago Ramón y Cajal was born in Petilla de Aragón , a town in northern Spain , on May , 1852. He  was a naughty boy , who always had problems at school. He attended several schools, so his family tried to find one where he settled down and behaved appropriately. He was excellent at drawing but very undisciplined . He was very good at drawing, but did not enjoy strict discipline so his father withdrew him from school, teaching him to be a barber , then a shoemaker, which did not work well either. He wanted to be an artist and went back to high school in the town of Huesca .

In 1868 , his father, who was an anatomist, took the 16-year-old boy to cemeteries where bones from ancient burials had surfaced, trying to get him interested in drawing bones and thus awaken his interest in anatomy . This strategy worked and in 1868 RSantiago Ramón y Cajal enrolled to study medicine at the University of Zaragoza , where his father was a professor.

He did well in college and became so adept at dissecting that he was hired as a dissection teaching assistant . In 1873, after five years in medical school , he graduated. He was ready to practice medicine at just 21 years old.

He was drafted into the army and in 1874, his army moved to the Spanish colony of Cuba , where the Ten Years War of Independence had been fought . Some time later he resigned from the army and spent a time taking care of his mother and sisters in Spain.


On October 17, 1934, when Dr. Francisco Tello found Santiago Ramón y Cajal dead. His body was still warm still, and his eyes were barely closing automatically. His death was not unexpected as he had fallen ill in the summer . He suffered from different types of digestive disorders . During the autumn his delicate state of health worsened.

Contributions of Santiago Ramón y Cajal

Santiago Ramón y Cajal is considered the father of neurobiology , he made great contributions to the improvement of the cell staining process that had been created by Golgi and managed to give an accurate explanation of the neuron doctrine . He created the law of dynamic polarization that says that the transmission of nerve movement is directional due to the relationships that neurons have . He also discovered dendritic spines for cell communication, axonal growth , helped in research related to choleraand cancer . In addition, he improved the techniques of photography , improved the gramophone better known as the Edison phonograph .


He was a modest person who always worked with simplicity . He was also a progressive intellectual and was always on the side of the people. He was always concerned about studies , the need for a university , institutes and high schools for the most humble. He considered that progress was in the young . He had an independent personality , he was a very austere man and he did not like the cult of personality . He was also interested in social problems and had acritical spirit.

Physical characteristics

Santiago Ramón y Cajal was a man of medium height , who always wore a beard . His ears were a bit big and he had no hair on the front of his head, which he had lost since his youth.


His mother’s name was Antonia Cajal . His father, Justo Ramón Casasús , was a surgeon and professor of applied anatomy. He married Silveria Fañanás García , with whom he had seven children who were Santiago, Felina, Pabla Vicenta, Jorge, Enriqueta, Pilar and Luis.

Importance of Santiago Ramón y Cajal

The main importance of Santiago Ramón y Cajal was his contributions to the understanding of the functioning of the nervous system and the neural network that forms the brain. Thanks to its representations by means of drawings, aspects of neuronal morphology and its components could be clearly observed , being very useful for the scientific and medical area as it allowed us to know the way in which the basic units of the nervous system, neurons, function .

In the area of neuroscience it has a key and fundamental importance, because of it, we know today the basic unit of the nervous system and the reticular theory . Thanks to him, we know today that the nervous system works as a connection and his theories managed to reflect the way in which nerve impulses travel throughout the system.


Some of the most important works by Santiago Ramón y Cajal were:

  • The photograph of colors
  • Studies on the degeneration and regeneration of the nervous system.
  • Neuronism or reticularism ?
  • Histology of the nervous system of man and vertebrates.
  • Psychology of Don Quixote and Quixoticism.
  • Photography of the colors, scientific bases and practical rules.
  • “My childhood and youth”  and “My scientific work . “

Phrases by Santiago Ramón y Cajal

Some of his most important phrases are the following:

  • The heads should be judged as the pockets . By making them ring with the jolts of conversation, we immediately notice that some contain the gold of wisdom and ingenuity , and others the small change of vulgarity and routine .
  • The thoughts do not last long. You have to do something with them.
  • The forest of dormant brain neurons must be vigorously shaken ; it is necessary to make them vibrate with the emotion of the new, and infuse them with noble and high concerns.
  • Every man can be, if he wants to, a sculptor of his own brain .
  • Neurons are cells with delicate and elegant shapes , the mysterious butterflies of the soul , whose flapping of wings, who knows if one day will unravel the secret of mental life.


In 1954 , histologists from the University of Medical Sciences of Havana , in Cuba, made a tombstone in the histology laboratories of the ICBP Victoria de Girón in his honor. A sculpture made by Eduardo Carretero at the Ramón y Cajal University Hospital in Madrid. In 1952, the dictatorship of Francisco Franco posthumously awarded him the title of Marquis of Ramón y Cajal.

In 1973, the International Astronomical Union designated the lunar crater Cajal in his memory and the asteroid Ramonycajal in his honor. In October 1977, the Ramón y Cajal University Hospital was inaugurated in Madrid, Spain . On October 22, 1984, in the presence of his daughter María de los Ángeles, a plaque commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Santiago Ramón y Cajal was unveiled .

Perhaps the most important event of the so-called ” Cajal Year “ was the Great Cajal Congress , held in Zaragoza with scientists, national and international, and the Ramón y Cajal Specialties Medical Center bears his name in that place . On December 10, 2011, the Santiago Ramón y Cajal Honorary and Multidisciplinary Chair was founded at the University of Medical Sciences of Havana . In 1906 he won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine , an award shared with the Italian researcher Camillo Golgi.

Fauvelle Prize given by the Société de Biologie de Paris; Rubio Prize , awarded by the Royal Academy of Madrid for its Manual of Histology, the Grand Cross of Alfonso XII and the Grand Cross of Isabel la Católica , the Martínez y Molina Award, the Grand Cross of the French Legion of Honor with the degree of Commander, the Cross of the German Imperial Order , the Echegaray Medal , awarded by the Royal Academy of Exact, Physical and Natural Sciences and the Plus Ultra Medal .

Presence in popular culture

In his honor a Spanish television series called Ramón y Cajal: history of a will was also made . It lasted ten episodes in which his life was told. The series was made in natural settings in Zaragoza, Huesca, Alcalá de Henares, Barcelona and Valencia.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *