Doctor, teacher, lecturer, writer and politician
Emílio Fernando Alves Peres was born in Ermesinde on 22 July 1932.
He was an only child; his parents came from Lisbon. He completed primary education in a public school and like many others he was forced to be a member of the Mocidade Portuguesa [Portuguese Youth Association] and to attend religion and moral classes although he was not a believer.
He had fond memories of his holidays as a child in Lisbon, going for walks and gatherings.
He studied for seven years at the Alexandre Herculano high school in Porto, at first travelling by train and later taking the tram. He made many friends for life at high school and began to write for the school newspaper. He also worked part-time as an agent for a fortnightly publication of crossword puzzles and sold books for Editora Civilização during his holidays.
In 1949, he enrolled in the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Porto, and there he remained until 1955. He was an outstanding scholar and received some academic awards. In the 6th year, he delivered his first research project entitled "Acção hipoglicemiante da Vitamina E" [The hypoglycaemia effect of Vitamin E].
Alongside his studies, he also practiced sports, for e.g., roller hockey, in the Porto University Centre team; tennis, at the Ermesinde Tennis Club; mountaineering, at the National Mountaineering Club. He was also part of the Orfeão Universitário do Porto [Porto University Choir], tried journalism, and in his 3rd year began to work as a medical sales representative for the Lepetit laboratory
Because he was interested in Endocrinology, he moved to Lisbon in 1955 to improve his knowledge in this area that did not exist in Porto. He was then admitted to work in a Medical Clinic with endocrinologist Luís da Silveira Botelho, who became his teacher. He trained at Santa Maria Hospital and completed the degree in Medicine with eighteen out of twenty marks in 1957.
In the four following years, he headed the medical sales services, developed innovative marketing techniques at Lepetit, was admitted to the internship at the Civil Hospitals of Lisbon, did his military service, published the first scientific papers, delivered the first conferences and became a volunteer teacher of Physiological Chemistry for one year at the Faculty of Medicine of Lisbon, where he became friends with Manuel Júdice Halpern and Manuel Neves e Castro.
In the early 1960s, when he was still a medical intern at the Civil Hospitals of Lisbon and an Endocrinology trainee at IPO, he obtained a scholarship to study in Montreal. However, his parents asked him to return to Porto and the Faculty of Medicine of Porto asked him to ask for a transfer from S. António Hospital to S. João Hospital. In the end, he was hired as Medical Assistant to set up the regular Endocrinology consultations, which later became part of the Endocrinology Unit.
During this phase, he was also involved in teaching, research, conferences and the study of new educational methods and medical sales. At Lepetit, he was promoted to Marketing Director, investing in post-graduate studies on Marketing and Business Management, and later was once again promoted to Business Consultant. In 1965, when the laboratory was integrated in the Dow Chemical Group, he assumed the post of general Director of the company in Portugal until he left in 1971, remaining, however, linked to the editorial department of Lepetit.
Between 1961 and 1962, he fought in Angola as part of a battalion of Special Snipers, returning to Portugal after being wounded.
From the 70s to the 90s, he published dozens of scientific papers, entered the private practice in Endocrinology and Eating Disorders (1979), continued to work at S. João Hospital, where he later became Head of the Department of Endocrinology and from which he retired in 1992. At the Faculty of Medicine of Porto, he was a member of the Governing Board (1974-1975), of the Scientific Board (1975-1976) and ceased his teaching activity (1976).
Between 1974 and 1975, he participated actively in two national commissions: one was formed by the representatives of three faculties of Medicine and of the central hospitals, which laid the foundations of two medical schools, one in Lisbon and another in Porto (the latter is the Institute of Biomedical Sciences Abel Salazar); the other was formed by the representatives of the faculties of Medicine under the tutelage of the General Director for Education.
These two commissions set the guidelines for the training of health professionals, and established the creation of the following public schools: Oral Health, Food and Nutrition, such as the Faculty of Nutrition and Food Sciences of the University of Porto, Clinical Psychology, Motor Skills and of Sports and Physical Education for Health. Some of these recommendations also led to the creation of refreshing courses for nursing assistants, nursing training and regular medical courses.
In 1976, he became part of the Interim Working Group of the Nutrition Course of the University of Porto, which later became the current Faculty of Nutrition and Food Sciences of the University of Porto (FCNAUP). The inaugural subject he taught at the Faculty of Medicine was maintained until 1998.
The teacher, researcher and lecturer sought to reach vast audiences. He published informative books, did radio programmes for 12 years, appeared many times on TV, wrote hundreds of dissemination articles and opinion articles, collaborated in books on the environment, nutrition and politics, participated in the Campaign for Food Education entitled "Saber Comer é Saber Viver" [Knowing how to eat is knowing how to live] and in the project "A Roda dos Alimentos" [The Food Wheel] and gave training courses.
His love for culture led him to participate in the foundation of the Popular University of Porto, a non-profit cultural association of public utility, along with Rui Luís Gomes, Óscar Lopes and Armando de Castro, which opened its doors on 25 June 1979, for the celebration of the 30th anniversary since the death of Bento Jesus Caraça.
He was also linked to the Foundation Maria Isabel Guerra Junqueiro and Luís Pinto de Mesquita Carvalho, set up after the death of the daughter of the poet from Trás-os Montes. He worked as a consultant for Enciclopédia Verbo, was a militant of the Communist Party (PCP) and Vice-Chairman of the Portuguese Association of Doctors - Regional Department (1973-1975).
He was married to Odete Peres and had a daughter named Mafalda, mother of Frederico and Santiago.
The father of food education in Portugal was a learned and interventive man who dedicated his whole life to scientific research, teaching, culture (arts and music), politics and plastic arts (sacred art and pottery, which he studied using scientific methods). He died on 26 October 2003.
(Universidade Digital / Gestão de Informação, 2008)