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Professor Emilio Díaz Calavia, first doctor in Physical Sciences at the University, dies

He was one of the first researchers in Biophysics in Spain and for more than 30 years he taught several subjects at Schools in Medicine and Pharmacy and Nutrition.

/Emilio Díaz Calavia

04 | 10 | 2022

Emilio Díaz Calavia, professor at department of Physics and Applied Mathematics, has passed away in Pamplona at the age of 86. A native of Zaragoza, he joined the University of Navarra in 1971, where he taught Physics, Biophysics and Human Physiology at Schools in Medicine and Pharmacy and Nutrition. He was also the first doctor in Physical Sciences of the School of Sciences. He carried out his academic and research work until his retirement in 2006.

Don Emilio, as he was known at the University, was one of the first researchers in Biophysics in Spain. Even before the existence of department, he already had a laboratory at Research Building in which he investigated evoked potentials, analyzing the electrical response in the brain in animals exposed to external stimuli. "When I arrived at department, back in 1991, I found it surprising that a physicist could do physics experiments on living beings," recalls Professor Javier Burguete.

In his last years, before retiring, he devoted himself to the analysis of chaotic dynamics in electrocardiograms, the last topic in which he did research. Throughout his academic life don Emilio did research on topics related to the human body, and his teaching was centered on the teaching of Biophysics and Medical Physics at the degree program of Medicine. "I had the privilege of receiving all the material he had used in his classes, material that I still have and that I have used more than once in my Medicine classes," Burguete emphasizes.

For his part, Dr. Nicolás García González, director medical-health care of the Clínica Universidad de Navarra in Pamplona and student of Professor Díaz Calavia remembers him in his early days as a student: "When we were 18 years old, we approached the first year of Medicine with great enthusiasm, but with a certain reverential fear. Don Emilio was one of those in charge of discovering to us the importance of acquiring a solid knowledge base, in this case biophysics, so that physiology and pathophysiology would later teach us to understand the instructions of health and disease".

Dr. García González points out that, behind a certain appearance of a peculiar scientist, Díaz Calavia had a great closeness with his students and knew how to awaken in them the ambition to acquire the deep knowledge that he had. "He was demanding with himself, but he was also demanding with his students, seeking to get the best out of us so that at some point we could be useful to others. With other great professors with whom he shared Chair in this University, he contributed to the fact that a few promotions of doctors have the sick at the center of our activity".