The Academy of Medical, Physical and Natural Sciences of Guatemala was established by the San Carlos University of Guatemala on October 15, 1945, as it was recorded in Act 87 of the University Superior Council. It was born in the first year of a decade in which a time of fresh humanistic, social, political and scientific growth began in Guatemala. The Academy was founded with the purpose of favoring the development of scientific research within an ethical framework. One of the justifications for the creation of the Institution explicitly mentions the support to scientific research and the popularization of knowledge produced in diverse areas of Science. Since then, the Academy has been promoting links of cooperation with similar institutions, both nationally and abroad.
At the establishment of the Academy, the University of San Carlos of Guatemala expressed its support to the new institution and urged the leaders of the new entity to take responsibility in acquiring the necessary legal recognition before the governmental authorities. As a result of the negotiations of the first Council, the President of the Republic, Dr. Juan José Arévalo, approved the statutes that govern the Academy since July 28, 1947, date in which those changes were approved by the Assembly, and when the Institution received the approved statutes from the hands of the President of the Republic.
Along its history, the Academy of Medical, Physical and Natural Sciences of Guatemala has promoted and/or participated in important contributions to Guatemalan society. For instance, the Academy encourages the association of the most distinguished people that have dedicated their lives to scientific research, diffusion and activities related to science. In addition, the Academy intends to offer a meeting place for those who desire to discuss scientific and technological topics. The Academy has defined as one of its main goals the expansion of science and the dissemination of scientific ideas among all citizens of Guatemala. All of these are actions that respond to the usual objectives of scientific academies. Besides, the Academy has taken part in efforts that have crystallized in actions of much national value, from the point of view of the promotion of science.
For instance, the Academy of Medical, Physical and Natural Sciences of Guatemala conceived and directed actions before the National Constituent Assembly of 1985 so that the State recognized the importance of science and technology as fundamental activities of social progress. This initiative introduced an addition to the Political Constitution of the Republic, in article number 80. Additionally, the Academy promoted meetings among the Guatemalan universities, and also with the industrial and agricultural private sectors, as well as the public sector, to give life to article 7 of the Constitution. This process occurred simultaneously in two areas, the creation of a national institution dedicated to science and technology, and the organization of the National System of Science and Technology. In another area, the Academy produced the definition of the necessary laws and regulations to support and sustain the System.
The Academy participated jointly with representatives of the universities, the industrial and agricultural private sector, as well as with the political sector to build the National System of Science and Technology. The System was finally integrated by nine members, three from each one of the public sector, the private sector, and the academic community. The organizations that integrate the System are: The National Council of Science and Technology -CONCYT- : in charge of the direction and coordination of the national scientific advancements, The Secretary of CONCYT: with administrative functions, The Consultative Commission of the Council: with support functions, especially of planning, evaluation and elaboration of proposals, and one for each one of the thirteen sectors in which the domestic regulations divide the areas of economic and social development.
The National Council of Science and Technology was integrated by three members from the public sector: the Vice-president of the Republic, (who is the President of the Council), the Secretary of Economy, and the President of the Commission of Science and Technology of the Congress of the Republic; three members for the private sector: the Chairman of the Chamber of Industry, the Chairman of the Chamber of Agriculture and the Chairman of the Chamber of Enterprise; and three members from the academic community: the Rector of the University of San Carlos of Guatemala, a Rector in representation of the private universities, and the President of the Academy of Medical, Physical and Natural Sciences of Guatemala. Meetings of the Council are held four times a year. An equivalent structure, integrated by representatives of the respective institutions, was adopted to integrate the Consultative Commission of the Council, meetings are held every two weeks.
The Academy has contributed to the creation, extension and direction of the laws and regulations of the National System of Science and Technology. Two laws were created: the Law of Promotion of Scientific and Technological Development and the Law of Creation of the National Fund for Science and Technology. Also, the Academy promoted the respective regulations and contributed to define them.
The means that mainly has used the Academy to promote science and technology in Guatemala has been the National System of Science and Technology. The System has served as a forum in which wide interests of the different Guatemalan sectors converge in relation to science and technology. The main initiatives related to science are analyzed in it and decisions are taken openly. By means of the National Fund, CONCYT has financed science projects and activities.
The Academy participates with the rest of the members of the National System of Science and Technology in the process that summons all domestic institutions to present candidates to the Medal of Science and Technology, the main national recognition in science. This recognition is granted by the Congress of the Republic to those members of the System that have stood out in areas of scientific research or technological development of national interest. The Academy also participates in the evaluation and nomination of the candidate who becomes worthy of this distinction.
The maximum authority of the Academy is the General Assembly, integrated by all its members, that meets in ordinary sessions at least twice a year. The Board of Directors is the executive and administrative agency of the Academy and is formed by the President, the Vice-president, the Secretary, the Vice-secretary, the Treasurer and tow Vocals elected from the members of the Academy. It meets at least twice a month. In order to carry out the tasks decided by the General Assembly and conveyed through the Board of Directors, Commissions of the Academy are created. They can have as many sub-commissions as they see fit. Commissions and sub-commissions meet whenever they consider it necessary.
There are three categories of members: Numbered Academicians, which are those who having filled the requirements and are elected as members of the Academy; Merit Academicians, which are those that are worthy of such a distinction because of services rendered to the Academy, Science or Humanity; and Corresponding Academicians: which are all those national or foreign people residents outside the Republic of Guatemala that because of their knowledge and merits become creditors to be members of the academy. There are three branches of the Academy: Medical Sciences, Physical Sciences and Natural Sciences. There are 30 numbered members in each section. The number of Merit and Corresponding members is unlimited.
Some of the present limitations of the Academy of Medical, Physical and Natural Sciences of Guatemala are financial, including not having a comfortable and sufficiently equipped facility for the institution. The money that the Academy has as resource come from an annual contribution made by the State University of Q12,000.00 (twelve thousand quetzales) and the annual fee of the Academicians that is Q400.00 (four hundred quetzales). Nevertheless, it is probable that the most important limitations of the Academy are the modest national scientific production in Guatemala and scarcity of resources devoted to science. Many of those resources are dedicated to cover other priorities. With this, the potential contribution of science and technology to society is undervalued.
The Academy is a member of the Caribbean Scientific Union (CCC) where a representative of the Academy sits on the Board; also a member of the International Council for Science (ICSU) where the Academy has a representative at the Regional Committee for Latin America and the Caribbean; and the Academy is also member of the Inter American Network of Academies of Science (IANAS), where the Academy also has a representative at the Executive Board, and takes part in several of its programs. The Academy is also a member of the Global Network of Academies of Science (IAP).