3 December 2013: A Google Doodle to celebrate the 180th anniversary of the birth of physician Carlos Juan Finlay


The Cuban physician Carlos J Finlay has been honoured with a Google Doodle on the 180th anniversary of his birth.

Finlay is credited with discovering that yellow fever is transmitted via infected mosquitos, though his ideas were ignored for 20 years after first being published in 1886.

Born in Puerto Príncipe 1833, he studied at Jeffeson Medical College, Philadelphia, before returning to Cuba to practice medicine in Matanzas and Havana.

In 1879 that he was appointed by the Cuban government to study the causes of yellow fever and two years later he attended the International Sanitary Conference in Washington DC to represent the country. At this conference, Finlay urged the international community to study yellow fever vectors, and he shortly after proposed that mosquitos were key to the spread of the disease.

In 1900, Finlay managed to persuade the head of the US Army Yellow Fever Board, Walter Reed, of his theory while he was visiting Cuba. Reed then went on to refine Finlay's experimental procedures, and the US Army physician William Gorgas soon eradicated the disease in Cuba and Panama.

Finaly was appointed chief sanitation officer of Cuba in 1902 and, after his death from a stroke in 1915, the Cuban government created the Finlay Institute for Investigations in Tropical Medicine in his honour.

Finlay was nominated seven times for the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, but never won.

Today's Google Doodle shows Finlay's bespectacled face reflected in a pool containing tropical lily pads, one of which has a mosquito sat upon it.