Date of Birth: 16th Nov 1937
ENCEPHALITIS: inflammation of the brain, usually caused by a virus
SPECIES: a category of classification, consisting of related organisms capable of producing viable offspring
DYSLEXIA: a learning disorder marked by impairment of the ability to recognise and understand written words
Caribbean Icons in STI Volume 1
Dr. Arnoldo Ventura is the Prime Minister of Jamaica’s Adviser of Science Technology. He is known internationally for promoting science and technology to alleviate poverty. A former Chairman of the United Nations Committee on Science and Technology (COMCYT) of the Organisation of American States (OAS).
His career began with the study of human viruses, especially those spread by insects and those used in children’s vaccines. He researched the natural history of viruses in the Caribbean, like dengue and those causing encephalitis infections. He studied the role of birds and their external parasites in spreading viruses. He discovered six new species of bird mites and developed tissue culture methods for virus detection.
Arnoldo Khaleel Ventura was born on November 16th 1937 in Kingston, Jamaica. He attended Windward Road Government Primary School and Kingston College where he enjoyed the sciences. Despite regular bouts of respiratory illness and dyslexia, he secured a Jamaican Government Exhibition Scholarship in 1957.
He pursued his Bachelor and Master of Science degrees at the University College of the West Indies (UCWI), Mona. Through a US Public Health Fellowship, he gained his doctoral degree from Cornell University in 1967. In the early 1970s, he worked as a researcher and professor of virology at the University of the West Indies and University of Miami.
Working in depressed communities, Ventura was struck by the bleakness of poverty. This sparked a desire to use science as a tool to solve social and economic problems. In 1977 he became Executive Chairman of the Scientific Research Council of Jamaica and obtained an avenue to put his ideas into action. Using television, newspapers, and booklets, he encouraged the media and citizens to develop a greater awareness of science and technology.
Dr. Ventura gained many national accolades for his work in research and science and technology promotion including the Silver Musgrave Medal (2002), Commander of the Order of Distinction (2001), and the Institute of Jamaica Centenary Medal (1980).
He notes that the excitement and satisfaction of a scientist’s life cannot be experienced in any other profession. He considers that science enables an understanding of life as “a learning, respectful, and joyful relationship with the environment. Once we understand this, we can make the world a better place.”