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Dionisio Nieto Gómez

Dionísio Nieto Gómez was born in Madrid, Spain on March 13 1908. In 1929, he received his MD from the Faculty of Medicine, Complutense University in Madrid. Subsequently, he spent five years, from 1931 to 1935 in Germany studying neuropsychiatry. After returning to Spain he worked from 1935 to 1937 at the Psychiatric Clinic of the General Hospital of Madrid and in the Cajal Institute.

Nieto left Spain in 1939 after the Civil War, and arrived in Mexico via France and Santo Domingo, in April 1940. In  Mexico City,  he worked first at the National Psychiatric Hospital, commonly known as "La Castañeda” and was instrumental in establishing the foundation of the Laboratory of Medical and Biological Research that was to become UNAM’s (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México) Institute of Biomedical Research.

In 1964, Nieto joined the National Institute of Neurology and Neurosurgery in Mexico City, and soon after he became head of the Department of Psychiatry and Research of the Institute. In the mid-1950s, he was involved in studying copper metabolism in the CNS (Escobar and Nieto 1957) and its effect on mental disorder. He also developed a chemical reaction, the “Nieto Reaction” for the diagnosis of neurocysticercosis in the cerebrospinal fluid   (Nieto 1956).

In the late 1950s, Nieto’s interest turned to psychopharmacology and he was among the firsts to explore the psychopathology induced by strofariacubensis, a potent species of psychedelic mushroom whose principal active compounds are psilocybin and psilocin (Nieto 1959, 1962)..  In the 1960s, he contributed with his research to the treatment of epilepsy with methaminodiazepoxide (chlordiazepoxide) (Nieto, Escobar, Castro and Roldan 1960) and to the prophylactic treatment of manic–depressive psychosis with lithium carbonate (Nieto 1963, 1969). In the 1970s, he studied the effects of Prussian blue, ferric hexanocyanate ferrate, a substance in use at the time in heavy metal poisoning and in 1980, he reported his findings with the substance in schizophrenia and in the treatment of thallium, arsenic, lithium, etc., poisoning (Nieto 1980).  

In 1970, Nieto was appointed head of the Mexican National Reference Center of the International reference Center Network of Psychopharmacology of the World Health Organization. He was instrumental in setting a foundation of psychopharmacological research in Mexico and will be remembered as the beloved teacher of the first generation of psychopharmacologists in this country.

Nieto died on January 2, 1985, in Mexico City.



EscobarAI, NietoD. The role of copper in mental disorders. Bol. Inst. Estud. Méd. Biol. Mexico 1957;  15:159-70.

Nieto D. Cysticercosis of the nervous system diagnosis by means of the spinal fluid complement fixation test. Neurology1956; 6: 725-38.

Nieto D. Psicosis experimentales. efectos psíquicos del hongo Strophariacubensisde Oaxaca. Neurología, Neurocirugía, Psiquiatría 1959;  1: 6-16.

Nieto D. Psicosis experimentales con psylocybina. Neurología, Neurocirugía, Psiquiatría 1962; 3: 140-6.

Nieto D. Tratamiento De la manía con carbonato de litio. Neurología, Neurocirugía, Psiquiatría 1963;  4: 123-4.

Nieto D. El litio en la psicosis maníaco depresiva. Neurología, Neurocirugía, Psiquiatría.1969; 10: 63-72.

Nieto D. Blue de prusse: antidote specifique contre le thallium, l’arsenic, les solvents industriels et d’autres poluneuropathie: Un agent antipsychotique posible”. Revista Psychologiemédicale 1980; 12: 2395-7.

Nieto D, Escobar A, Castro M, Roldán E. Tratamiento de la epilepsia con metaminodiazepóxido. Neurología, Neurocirugía, Psiquiatría 1961; 2; 17-27.


Antonio Torres-Ruiz

April 3, 2014