The Royal European Academy of Doctors is more than a hundred years old. Denominated the Royal European Academy of Doctors (RAED) since February 2016, the institution has had various different names during its century of existence: Association of Enrolled Doctors of Catalonia (1914-1920), Association of Doctors Enrolled in the University District of Barcelona or simply Association of Doctors (1920-1954), Association of Doctors of Catalonia and the Balearic Islands or simply Association of Doctors (1954-1990) and Royal Academy of Doctors (1990-2016) (1990-2016).
The current institution’s initial incarnation was the Association of Enrolled Doctors of Catalonia. This was created by a group of university academics close to Álvaro Esquerdo, a prestigious surgeon of the day, for the then-impending First Congress of Doctors held in Barcelona in 1915. The institution was not formally inscribed in the register of associations of the Civil Government (prefecture) of the Province of Barcelona until 25th May 1919.
Álvaro Esquerdo – assisted by his secretary Dr. Guillermo de Benavent – can therefore be considered as the true founder of this organisation. It was associated with an intense series of cultural events in its early stages, including a solemn session to mark the end of the 1918-1919 academic year, presided over by the Spanish King Alfonso XIII in the Great Hall of the University of Barcelona
The year 1920 saw it change its name to Association of Doctors Enrolled in the University District of Barcelona, before being officially recognised in 1924 by virtue of a Royal Order issued by the Spanish Ministry of Public Instruction and the Arts.
The Association of Doctors then entered into a long difficult-to-survive period marked by Spain’s subsequent political instability. It registered barely any activity during the Second Republic, and practically disappeared with the Civil War.
It bounced back into existence in 1943, revived by the illustrious chairmanship of Dr. Guillermo de Benavent Camps, assisted by his vice-secretary Dr. Peres Casañas. He occupied the prestigious post until his death in 1963. Both men managed between them to revive an Association of Doctors that had suffered from almost two decades of social and political unrest.
The reins were then taken up in 1964 by Dr. Jordi Xifra Heras, who found an Academy of Doctors that had been restored and consolidated, but was nevertheless in need of certain changes. He succeeded in gaining the academic involvement of the most prestigious cultural and scientific figures of the day, while the good offices of Dr. Bermejo, the institution’s secretary, helped bring a sense of order and continuity to its activities.
Dr. Luis Dolcet Buxeres, who took over the chairmanship in 1977, continued for a further decade to consolidate the brilliant progress of his predecessors; accompanied by a renewed and reforming academic board and against the uplifting background of Spain’s return to full democracy. Various decisive acts vital to the institution’s future were implemented during these years, by both Dolcet Buxeres and his successor Dr. José Casajuana Gibert, a conscientious man of science with a firm set of beliefs and scholarly knowledge. The year 1989 proved to be of particular relevance, as it was marked by the Academy being recognised as a public entity by Spain’s King Juan Carlos, who awarded it the prefix that allowed it to call itself the Royal Academy of Doctors.
Relations with the Crown have prospered ever since, in the shape of various acts and events involving the Royal House that demonstrate its appreciation of the institution.
These include the solemn academic session presided over by King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia in Barcelona’s Palace of Music on 10th December 1992. On 29th May 2008 José Casajuana Gibert, the presiding dean, awarded the Medal of Honour of the Royal Academy of Doctors to His Majesty King Juan Carlos during a session of the Inter-Academic Council of Catalonia, the revolving presidency of which was at the time occupied by our institution.
His Majesty the King’s words of thanks for being awarded the Medal of Honour of the RAED are worth emphasising:
“This is a distinction that I greatly value, and one which corresponds to my sincere appreciation of the work carried out by this institution in the service of Catalonia and of Spain as a whole”.
The King then highlighted the work carried out by the Academy by referring to:
“illustrious engineers, renowned physicians, famous mathematicians, brilliant writers and prestigious economists, physicians, chemists and many other outstanding personalities from the arts and sciences. Men and women who have been able to resolve issues of fundamental importance to the cultural, scientific, economic and social development of Spain and of all is peoples”
His Majesty also stressed that:
“the love of a job well done, common sense and an open-minded attitude, along with a capacity for initiative and tenacity, have all helped create the best virtues of which Catalan society can always be justly proud. Virtues which help to explain Catalonia’s contribution to the construction of a constantly modernising Spain that is both prosperous and dynamic and belongs to us all; able to compete vigorously and successfully with the entire world. A Spain that is proud of its diversity and plurality, and which has been able to achieve its longest-ever period of progress in democracy and freedom”.
Before finishing, His Majesty reminded those present that:
“The challenges, difficulties and transformations that our economic life is undergoing, in a world that is increasingly complex and globalised, must be tackled as a matter of priority in order to promote and guarantee growth and improved well-being based on solidarity and sustainability. Scientific activity has to play a leading role in this task, by contributing theoretical and technical elements designed to meet the requirements of collective development; particularly of those who are most in need of such development. Let us not forget that teaching and research are the fundamental building blocks of both coexistence and the best possible future for all citizens”.
“We acknowledge with pride, after a hundred years, our four-fold identity as academicians and doctors who are both Royal and European.”
The recent history of the RAED has been marked by its latest deanship, chaired by Dr. Alfredo Rocafort Nicolau, who took up his post on 26th June 2012 after being elected by a broad consensus of members.
The new governing board chaired by Dr. Rocafort has carried out a comprehensive reform of the institution, including a new headquarters and various changes in the statutes to reflect a realistic approach that involves opening up the institution to new times, while incorporating as academicians prestigious European and American scientists, some of whom are Nobel laureates.
A few years ago, the Academy decided to overcome physical, geographical and political barriers and opt decisively for its internationalisation. This challenge came to fruition in 2016, with the addition of the prefix “European” to the institution’s name.
The Royal Academy of Doctors has meanwhile been admitted (in 2013) as an associate academy by the governing board of the Institute of Spain. It also celebrated its centenary in 2014. The corresponding event to commemorate the 1914-2014 centenary took place in Barcelona on 7th April 2014, coinciding with the inauguration of new headquarters in the historic Fomento del Trabajo building (originally constructed by a Catalan business association) in the centre of the Catalan capital city.
The celebration was attended by Artur Mas i Gavarró, the then-head of the Generalitat de Catalunya, Catalonia’s autonomous regional government, who presided over the commemorative ceremony; while Luis Martinez Sistach, the Archbishop of Barcelona, blessed the new headquarters.
Ever since it was founded in 1914, the Royal European Academy of Doctors has been committed to defending the prestige of the title of “Doctor”, while seeking to maintain harmony and close cooperation between its members. We acknowledge with pride, after a hundred years, our four-fold identity as academicians and doctors who are both Royal and European.