Mexico’s First Physician in the Royal College of Physicians

In 2015, Dr. David Kershenobich Stalnikowitz became the first Mexican physician to be formally accepted as an honorary member of the Royal College of Physicians.

The Royal College of Physicians is a British based professional body, with a mission to improve the practice of medicine, mainly by the accreditation of physicians through examination. It is an old organisation, founded in 1518, and celebrating its five hundredth anniversary this year. Doctors, who have passed the examination for Diploma of Membership of the Royal College of Physicians of the United Kingdom, are entitled to use the MRCP (UK) post nominal after their names. The College also gives out affiliate and honorary membership to senior doctors, and to overseas doctors.

As Dr. Stalnikowitz and his colleagues are aware, Mexico has become an increasingly popular medical tourist destination, especially for visitors from the US, where the cost of medical treatment is unaffordable for many people. Due to its many talented doctors and surgeons, Mexico has come into its own as a global healthcare hub. No longer viewed as merely a destination for cheap dentistry and cosmetic surgery, it has recognised medical expertise across a wide range of specialities. 

The lion’s share of visitors are still regional, coming from Texas, Nevada, Arizona and Southern California, but visitors are now travelling from the Caribbean, Central and South America, and as far afield as the UK and Canada. Mexico provides a destination where patients can enjoy a holiday while they wait for their medical treatment.

Mexico’s reputation as a go-to destination for medical procedures is partly due to the high quality of the medical staff in its hospital system. Mexico has many talented physicians and Dr. Stalnikowitz stands out among these. Graduating from the Faculty of Medicine at the National Autonomous University of Mexico in 1963, from 1966 to 1970, he specialised in gastroenterology at the National Institute of Medical Sciences and Nutrition “Salvador Zubiran”. From 1971 to 1974 he focused on Hepatology at the Royal Free Hospital in London. In 1975, Dr. Stalnikowitz obtained his Doctorate in Medicine from the University of London. 

He occupied the position of Secretary of the General Health Council from October 2011 to June 2012, later becoming President of the National Academy of Medicine (2011-2012), creating the Mexican Foundation for Hepatic Health, of which he is the Honorary President, and was President of the International Association for the Study of the Liver from 2000 to 2002. 

His research field focuses on the study of cirrhosis of the liver, chronic hepatitis and associated complications. He is a renowned authority in research into fibrosis of the liver. He is currently the coordinator of the Seminar on BioMedical Research in Mexico’s largest university, UNAM and presently heads the National Institute of Medical Science and Nutrition Salvador Zubiran (INCMNSZ). He has over five hundred publications on the study of hepatic illnesses to his name, as well as two international patents in the field, and is considered one of Mexico's leading medical authorities.

The award, which carries a great significance in the medical research industry, was granted to Dr. Stalnikowitz after fellow scientist, Dr Alejandro Madrigal (presently based at the Royal Free Hospital and University College, London), put his name forward. Dr Madrigal, a British-Mexican world-recognised academic, is known for his groundbreaking work on stem-cell transplantation. He is another example of the extremely talented doctors and medical scientists, who come from Mexico.

The awarding of this honorary membership to Dr. Stalnikowitz is a recognition, both of his personal expertise and contribution to medicine, and of Mexico’s growing reputation as a medical centre of excellence.