Rewarding scientificity: on purpose of the LURAP awards in Cuba

EDUMECENTRO 2022;14:e1758



Rewarding scientificity: on purpose of the LURAP awards in Cuba

Premiar la cientificidad: a propósito de los premios LURAP en Cuba


Alberto Juan Dorta Contreras1*


1 Havana University of Medical Sciences. "Miguel Enríquez" Faculty Central Laboratory of Cerebrospinal Fluid (LABCEL). Havana. Cuba.


* Author for correspondence. Email:




The LURAP awards, created by the American Physiological Society, constitute an initiative established in Cuba and other countries that have members in that society. They can annually nominate a medical student for this award. The Central Laboratory of Cerebrospinal Fluid is an entity of science, technique and innovation that belongs to the "Miguel Enríquez" Faculty of Havana University of Medical Sciences; it´s distinguished by its scientific production, there the students constitute an important part of the research achievements exhibited by this science and technique entity, to which the encouragement represented by obtaining the LURAP (Local Undergraduate Research Award in Physiology) award has contributed. It´s internationally granted by the aforementioned company.

MeSH: academies and institutes; research; exploratory behavior; medical education.


Los premios LURAP, creados por la American Physiological Society, constituyen una iniciativa establecida en Cuba y otros países que tienen miembros en esa sociedad. Ellos pueden nominar anualmente un estudiante de la carrera de Medicina para este premio. El Laboratorio Central de Líquido Cefalorraquídeo es una entidad de ciencia, técnica e innovación que pertenece a la Facultad "Miguel Enríquez" de la Universidad de Ciencias Médicas de la Habana; se distingue por su producción científica, allí los alumnos constituyen una parte importante de los logros investigativos que exhibe esta entidad de ciencia y técnica, a lo cual ha contribuido el estímulo que representa obtener el premio LURAP (Local Undergraduate Research Award in Physiology) que otorga internacionalmente la mencionada sociedad.

DeSC: academias e institutos; investigación; conducta exploratoria; educación médica.



Submitted: 09/11/2020
Accepted: 22/10/2021



Although research is one of the substantive functions of the university, it must be developed simultaneously with the rest, which is sometimes difficult, especially for teachers with a large number of weekly hours in front of the student. That is why it has been proposed in the most prestigious universities in the world that it would be appropriate to establish research centers for a group of their professors to assume this assignment as a fundamental objective. Such centers have been successful, but in reality they are still sons of the university and inseparable from it.

Each generation of researchers at these centers comes from the university since research is related to knowledge, so their existence is a strength. Teaching needs research for its substance and a good researcher awakens similar impulses in students.(2) Such is the case of the Central Laboratory of Cerebrospinal Fluid (LABCEL) belonging to "Miguel Enríquez" Faculty of Havana University of Medical Sciences, where students are an important part of the achievements exhibited by this science and technology entity.(3)

Granting the LURAP (Local Undergraduate Research Award in Physiology) awards created by the American Physiological Society is an initiative established in Cuba as in other countries that have members in that society, who can nominate a student every year for this award. It consists of a diploma, a stamp, and membership for one year in the aforementioned society, a t-shirt or pullover, and they are mentioned in their science bulletin.

LABCEL is an entity of science, technique and innovation that belongs to the "Miguel Enríquez" Faculty of Havana University of Medical Sciences, its fundamental mission is research but also carries out medical assistance activities because it guarantees specialized analyzes for all hospitals in the country. It was founded in 2004 as a result of an agreement with the Georg August University of Goettingen, Germany and it is distinguished by its scientific production.

The LURAP awards given at LABCEL not only reward the work of a year of research related to cerebrospinal fluid, but they have also tried to reward the scientificity developed by some outstanding students in that work.

The Medicine students who work at LABCEL come from two sources: Immunology assistant students-(4) from the "Miguel Enríquez" Faculty, from other specialties of the faculty itself, and from other faculties that join the laboratory post-Quincke.(3)

So far, five medical students have been awarded, one per year. Then it is valued and reflected on what this has represented to stimulate scientificity.

The attitude of scientificity goes beyond capacity and specialized knowledge. It is developed in parallel to the creation of new knowledge, with systematic work that makes it possible to dispense with hackneyed paths, to change hypotheses as the results themselves lead to other horizons for the benefit of an impartial analysis on it. This attitude presupposes acquiring an objective and free knowledge that transforms initial experiences into new positions. The scientific attitude goes beyond a limited knowledge; it is a training that the student will take as an attitude, once they graduate.

Objectivity is encouraged in LABCEL as one of its pillars, the search for new opposing possibilities, as well as self-criticism and scientific criticism. For this, a simple method has been established for the realization of scientific criticism that has given very good results.(5) The characteristic of science is to doubt and question, to be very suspicious of definitive statements, to know the limited scope of knowledge, the limits of the results and the validity of the statements should always be examined. This makes possible to develop in young medical students a modeling that is not related to pigeonholes and to explore all the paths.

Not all students manage to develop this attitude of scientificity. It is known that many aspire to become doctors supported by the scientific method to achieve a diagnosis from the observation of symptoms and signs; but this does not make them scientists,(6) but highly qualified technicians capable of implementing what is established, and who will be enriched with the experience over the years with their care work. Of course, that is very good for any country because they become permanent guardians of health.

It is very important to develop in young people the sense of observation, questioning reality and doing it in a creative way. For example, some students from the observation of the invasion of the African giant snail in the areas where they carry out research work, they questioned themselves about febrile patients with suspected dengue, and decided to carry out a survey on the risk perception that the community has about the presence of this invasive species that affects the environment and health. It was not a task indicated by the entity: it started from observation and the desire to change reality.(7) When this happens, a creative initiative is discovered that must be stimulated in these students.

The desire to know is the determining stimulus that permeates the life of the university for teachers and students, and it increases with the linking of students to research centers. Honesty in research work and perseverance are also decisive. When students spend hours outside of academic hours in the laboratory without being guided or directed by anyone, they assume an attitude worthy of reward.

In most cases, good student performance in teaching is also stimulating for research and vice versa. That is why it is decisive that the students linked to it have good teaching results because: "… the best researcher is at the same time a good teacher".(2) Only in contact with the emergence of new knowledge, the student´s training as a scientist is reached.

At LABCEL the aim is to reward scientificity, and this requires preparing the student in the attitude of researching with the methods of a laboratory dedicated to the study of cerebrospinal fluid, not from learning a finished knowledge, but preparing them for scientific thinking. This laboratory, as part of the university, can only provide the basis for the development of science. Better conditions must be created to acquire knowledge through contact with living science, in addition to the technical skills of the referred center.

The role of the science educator is to have the environment and facilitate the conditions, but the true protagonist of this learning will always be the student. For this reason: "… the challenge of science education is not to teach, but to learn".(7) According to Lorda, the etymological truth of the word educate is to draw from inside: "It is obtained by stimulating and guiding, because it´s what wakes up -there is the wonder- is a free being, an autonomous and creative subject by itself; although it still cannot be completely free".(7)



1. Jaspers K. La idea de la universidad. Barañaín, España: EUNSA; 1980. 78 p.

2. Dorta Contreras A, Martínez Larrarte J, Cárdenas-De-Baños L, Castillo González W, González Losada C, Rodríguez Pérez J. Becas de investigación QUINCKE: una experiencia pedagógica innovadora. Educ Med Super [Internet]. 2019 [citado 09/11/2020];33(1):[aprox. 9 p.]. Disponible en:

3. Ramos-Robledo A, Meijides-Mejías C, Leyva-Hernández LM, Dorta Contreras AJ. Alumnos ayudantes como futuros profesores. Educ Med Super [Internet]. 2020 [citado 08/11/2020];34(3):[aprox. 6 p.]. Disponible en:

4. Castillo-González W, Dorta-Contreras AJ. Crítica científica. Una propuesta metodológica. Rev 16 de Abril [Internet]. 2017 [citado 08/11/2020];56(263):[aprox. 5 p.]. Disponible en:

5. Dorta Contreras AJ. Ser científico y hacer ciencia. Rev Cub Salud Pub [Internet]. 2010 [citado 07/11/2020];36(2):[aprox. 2 p.]. Disponible en:

6. Meijides-Mejías C, Gómez Pérez D, Hernández Almanza Y, Ramírez Matos R, Dorta Contreras AJ. Percepción de riesgo ante el caracol gigante africano (Lissachatinafulica) en el municipio Regla, La Habana, Cuba. Rev 16 de Abril [Internet]. 2018 [citado 09/11/2020];57(269):[aprox. 6 p.]. Disponible en:

7. Lorda JL. La vida intelectual en la Universidad. Fundamentos, experiencias y libros. Pamplona, Navarra: EUNSA; 2016. p. 19.



Declaration of interest

The author declares no conflict of interest.

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