Eugenia Del Pino

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Eugenia M. del Pino
Born (1945-04-19) April 19, 1945 (age 74)
ResidenceQuito, Ecuador
Alma materEmory University (PhD)
Vassar College (MS)
Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador (Licenciatura).
Known forEmbryonic development of the marsupial frogs Hemiphractidae and poison arrow frogs Dendrobatidae in comparison with other tropical frogs.
AwardsL'Oréal-UNESCO Awards for Women in Science
"Premio Nacional Eugenio Espejo" awarded by the Government of Ecuador.
Scientific career
FieldsDevelopmental Biology, Cell biology.
InstitutionsPontifical Catholic University of Ecuador (Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador), Quito.
Doctoral advisorAsa A. Humphries Jr.

Eugenia Maria del Pino Veintimilla (born 1945, Quito, Ecuador) is a developmental biologist at the Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Ecuador (Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador) in Quito.[1] She was the first Ecuadorian citizen to be elected to the United States National Academy of Sciences (2006).[2]


Del Pino was born, and grew up in Quito, Ecuador. She received a Licentiate Degree from the Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador,Quito 1967.[3] She then studied in the United States of America and holds a M.Sc. Vassar College, 1969, and a Ph.D. Emory University, 1972. Upon completion of the doctorate she returned to Ecuador and joined the faculty the Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador in Quito.[3] She is professor of Biology since 1972–present. She served as Head of Biological Sciences, from 1973-1975. With a fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation she did research at the German Cancer Research Center, Heidelberg, 1984-1985. She was Fulbright Fellow at the laboratory of Prof. Joseph Gall, Carnegie Institution of Washington, 1990.[1]

Research and Career[edit]

At her return to Ecuador after her doctoral studies, Del Pino chose a local frog for study, the Andean marsupial frog, Gastrotheca riobambae, that then occurred in the gardens of the university in Quito. She studied the reproductive and developmental adaptations of this frog in comparison with other tropical frogs, and the frog Xenopus laevis, a frog widely used for developmental studies.[4]

The marsupial frog has a pouch and carries the babies inside. Out of the intense competition for reproductive sites in the South American rainforest had evolved over 60 species of these frogs, in which the females double as mobile nests. Their reproduction and development was understood only in barest outline.[4] As an extension of her graduate work, she examined how marsupial frog eggs are fertilized and how embryos are maintained in the mother's pouch. Her original hypothesis was that the mother must search for fresh water at night to refresh her eggs. What she found was that the embryos actually died in fresh water.[5] Marsupial frog embryos develop under saline conditions typically found in the body. Traditional frogs and marsupial frogs also differ in how their embryos excrete waste. Free-swimming tadpoles excrete ammonia, which would be toxic if accumulated in close quarters.[4] Eugenia del Pino discovered that marsupial frog embryos excrete urea instead of ammonia. This finding allowed her to devise a urea-based medium for the in vitro culture of marsupial frog embryos. Unfortunately, she has never been able to fertilize the eggs artificially.[5] Despite this, her comparative studies added greatly to our understanding of the relationship between evolution and embryonic development.[5]

In addition to her research, Del Pino is a professor of Developmental Biology at Pontifical Catholic University in Ecuador.[6] She also became interested in education for conservation of the Galapagos Archipelago. She helped the Charles Darwin Foundation for the Galapagos Islands in the establishment of a program of scholarships for Ecuadorian students in the Galapagos Islands.[7] She served as Vice President of the Charles Darwin Foundation for several years in the 1990s. This work as well as her position as the only Ecuadorian citizen to have achieved international recognition in science, have made her a figure of national importance in Ecuador.[8]



  1. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-19. Retrieved 2010-12-03. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^, National Academy of Sciences -. "Eugenia del Pino".
  3. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-04-12. Retrieved 2013-04-02. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ a b c del Pino, E. M. Marsupial Frogs. Scientific American Volume 260. Number 5. Pages: 110-118 (May 1989)
  5. ^ a b c 65. del Pino, E.M. The early development of Gastrotheca riobambae and Colostethus machalilla, frogs with terrestrial reproductive modes. BiosciEdNet (BEN) Digital Library Portal for Teaching and Learning in the Biological Sciences. (2010).
  6. ^ del Pino, E. M. Teaching developmental biology in Ecuador: A 30-year journey. International Journal of Developmental Biology 47: 189-192 (2003). Available at "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-16. Retrieved 2010-12-05. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ Annual Report 2009 of the Charles Darwin Foundation. Special issue, page 10. Available at "Annual Report 2009" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-11-19. Retrieved 2010-12-05. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help).
  8. ^ "Camara de Comercio de Quito" (in Spanish). p. Archived 2018-12-22 at the Wayback Machine.
  9. ^ DNA researcher Okazaki wins int'l award for female scientists., the Free Library, 5 April 2015
  10. ^ Eugenia Maria del Pino Veintimilla. 2003 Sheth Distinguished International Alumnae Award. Emory University International. Available at
  11. ^ "Los premios Espejo para dos hombres y una mujer". El Universo (in Spanish). 9 August 2012. Retrieved 7 April 2017.
  12. ^ "Camara de Comercio de Quito" (in Spanish). p. Missing or empty |url= (help)

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