Costa Rica is a small, insignificant, and out-of-the-way middle-income Central American country. Yet, in many respects, it punches above its weight class. Two examples come to mind: the abolition of a standing army in 1949 and their soccer performance in 2014.

But, one area where Costa Rica excels matters greatly in these times: scientific research, especially in medicine. The Clodomiro Picado Institute is an internationally known research center in San José. Its namesake is a Costa Rican scientist who was one of the independent discoverers of penicillin, having documented and used it to treat patients at least one year before its discovery by Alexander Fleming.

The institute is best known for researching and producing antivenoms to treat venomous snake bites. These antivenoms are in high demand, being exported to other tropical regions throughout the globe, including Africa, Asia, and Oceania.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, however, many of the institute’s resources have been re-purposed for combating this virus.

A Manhattan Project for Healing

During World War II, the Manhattan Project brought together some of the world’s foremost scientists to work on a top-secret weapon. Many would argue that the atomic bomb ended the war sooner. Many would also argue that the existence of nuclear weapons resulted in the prevention of full-scale war by major powers due to the consequences (Mutually Assured Destruction), saving countless lives.

In his speech on June 5, Román Macaya, president of CCSS (Caja), praised the institute’s work and called their work our country’s Manhattan Project. This is Costa Rica’s Manhattan Project – for healing.


-Written by Glenn Tellier (Founder of CRIE and Grupo Gap).

[email protected]

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