Juan Ramón de la Fuente is a Mexican psychiatrist and academician who served as Secretary of Health in the Cabinet of President Ernesto Zedillo (1994-1999) and as Rector of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) from 1999 to 2007. He is currently Professor at UNAM and Chair of the Board of the Aspen Institute México.
De la Fuente’s career has resulted in many diverse accomplishments that have strengthened Mexico’s health, higher education and scientific research systems. These activities have led to national and international recognition of his leadership in both, academia and public service.
De la Fuente graduated from Medical School at the University of Mexico in 1976 and trained in Psychiatry at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. When he returned to Mexico he founded the Clinical Research Unit of the Mexican Institute of Psychiatry and joined the Faculty of UNAM’s School of Medicine, where he was appointed Dean in 1991. He was President of the Mexican Academy of Sciences and a few years later, President of the Mexican Academy of Medicine. As rector of UNAM, he established new centers and research facilities, implemented new undergraduate curricula, updated graduate programs and promoted new models for education using the latest information and communications technologies. This helped meet the growing demand for access to higher education within the country. Facilities were built and staffed outside of Mexico City, aimed to decentralize the campus. De la Fuente also fostered affirmative action programs in support of gender equality and scholarships for minority groups. These efforts centered on behalf of indigenous students. In 2008 he was elected President of the International United Nations University in Tokyo. He currently sits in several boards in Mexico and abroad, such as El Universal, an influential newspaper in Mexico City, and Santander Universidades in Madrid.
He has written over two hundred papers and eighteen books, and has received numerous awards and honorary degrees such as the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Mayo Clinic, the Presidential Award for Excellence of the University of Texas and Doctorates in Education, Medicine and Humane Letters form the Universities of Montreal, Alcalá, Moscow, Lima, Colombia and Arizona State amongst others. He also received from President Vicente Fox the National Prize for the Sciences and the Arts, the highest recognition of Mexico’s Government for intellectual achievements. Dr. de la Fuente is one of the most respected figures in Mexican society.