Dr. Andrés Martínez Vargas was born in Barbastro in 1861 and studied for his baccalaureate at the school of Los Escolapios. He went on to study medicine in Zaragoza, obtaining his doctorate from the Central University. He continued his studies in the USA where he specialised in paediatrics and, upon his return in 1888, obtained one of the recently created professorships for infant disease in Granada. In 1892 he was selected to work in the Faculty of Medicine in Barcelona.
He was founder and director of the Spanish magazine “La Medicina de los niños” and from 1914 onwards organised conventions for Spanish paediatricians as well as participating in others abroad. He was a strong believer of nipiology, a discipline that originated in Italy, and went on to found the first “Instituto Nipiológico” in Barbastro in 1916. Nipiology is a branch of paediatrics that specialised in the study of children up to the age of 2, around the time they start to talk. Its objective was to attend to the hygienic, medical, legal and social issues relating to children in infancy. The institute had the support of Dr. Fidencio Sesé, who, in 1925, publicly highlighted the reduction in infant death. Despite an epidemic of measles in the city, there had been only 23 deaths in children under the age of 5, an extraordinarily low figure in comparison with previous years.
Dr. Martínez Vargas is considered to be the patron of Spanish paediatrics and his influence in Aragon was decisive due to his great organisational skills, his excellent institutional relations and his capacity for work. He died in Barcelona in 1948.