His calling was growing, as he tells us. Enrique Soriano, born in Buenos Aires, did not feel that calling to help others in the medical field from his childhood years like many, but life gradually led him through that path, a calling that became stronger as he studied, learned, and -perhaps most importantly- researched.
In his words, “the truth is that when I finished high school, I was not very clear about what I wanted to be. I signed up to study Engineering and Medicine. At the time, since they were two different exams, I chose Medicine, but without having a very strong calling. Throughout my career I liked it and I was happy to graduate from the University of Buenos Aires”. Perhaps the only relationship that he had previously had with medicine was through his grandfather, who had been a doctor; however, he did not know him because he died before he was born, so everything related to this medical world would be new to him.
And so, ever so slowly, he discovered what he wanted to be.
For the residency, he took the exam once again and entered the Italian Hospital of Buenos Aires to study Internal Medicine for four years. “When I finished, I had two offers to stay working at the hospital, one was for pneumology and the other for rheumatology. Once again, with two options, the current president for PANLAR had to choose.
The head of rheumatology at that time, Dr. Luis Catoggio, had been in England for many years “and besides being a good person”, as Soriano describes him, he had a lot of knowledge, and a taste for doing scientific work, for research. He loved the specialty and also the fact of doing research.
That is how he decided to stay. “I was trained in the advanced course of rheumatology and later had the opportunity of doing a year of training in England at the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases, they do a lot of research there and I had the opportunity to publish three scientific papers. From there I returned and continued doing rheumatology in my country”, he says.
He lived in San Isidro, which is considered the historic nucleus in the northern zone of the great Buenos Aires, with over 300 thousand inhabitants. He did this primary and secondary schooling there. He remembers perfectly how that time was and eh describes it with a certain tone of nostalgia, evidently moved. “I had a neighborhood childhood, playing football in the street, going out on my bike, then I spent a lot of time at a farm that my parents had about 200 kilometers from the capital. Cows, meadows, horses… I spent many summers and weekends there. I liked that a lot.” Afterwards, he had what he describes as “a very good group of friends”, with whom he played rugby when he was a kid.
Moving forward, he highlights that he always liked that rheumatology was a very clinical specialty that requires a great deal of knowledge of clinical medicine, “very related to the interrogation and physical examination, in addition to a very good level of clinical research”. He has always dedicated himself to clinical research, never to basic research. He is very clear and reiterative when he mentions this.
If he had to provide a definition it would be: “difficult diseases, that are not well defined, gives the possibility to do a case analysis, characteristics of the population, there are many things of description. I always like that about rheumatology”. In addition, he highlights, the very good general level of doctors that performed it, “sometimes I noticed that it was different from other specialties. It has been a very restless one”.
Now he is happy. When he speaks of his workplace, he does it with a clear description, with praise, as if life continued smiling at him with that calling that he discovered one day, that which was more powerful than Engineering, which he came to realize years later. “It is a very large, university hospital; it has medical training, which makes research much easier”.
He mentions that they do a lot of their own research there, but also, from the last few years and after doing some work with the Argentinian Society of Rheumatology, they have advanced in the multicenter research.
Dr. Soriano’s line of research is basically rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis and autoimmune diseases such as lupus. “always clinical research”, he emphasizes once again.
FOOTBALL, RUGBY AND SERIES
Not everything is rheumatology, nor is it 24/7 research. Your life also has other horizons. “I really like to practice sports, play tennis, paddle. Doing sports is one of the things I like most”, he points out, gracefully also saying that afterwards he does not have many other hobbies “besides that”. He is a fan of River Plate and follows other international football teams. He also enjoys rugby, the other big sport he follows.
“My wife is also a doctor”, he says when he starts talking about his family. Her name is Daniela Epstein. They have three children, Francisco, 32 years old and a lawyer, and 19-year-old twins “who have just finished school, Felipe is studying engineering and Sofia is studying theater”.
He really likes Rod Stewart and all the music of that time. Some other mixed things such as La Oreja de Van Gogh. Basically, 90s music. “I really like films or series related to the middle ages, the Viking period, medieval England, everything that is epic, and war related to that period, swords. Series such as Britannia, Vikings or GOT”.
He does not have that “I always used to say” which is very characteristic of many. “there are people that always remembers ‘so and so told me’, I don’t”, he says with notes of sincerity.
HIS PATH IN PANLAR
His history with PANLAR goes back some years. He clearly remembers it, friends, research, and medicine converge here. Three key elements in his life.
It was “many years ago”, he says. When he participated in the launch of the Latin American study group for Rheumatoid Arthritis GLADAR and the Latin American study group for Lupus GLADEL. “From then on, there was a certain knowledge and understanding with many people in Latin America, which is why at a certain point, while I was at the Argentinian Society of Rheumatology, I was proposed as one of the regional representatives and this is when I joined PANLAR”, he recalls.
From that moment on he was part of the change, of what they call the new PANLAR. “There was a group of doctors who began to want to work differently in PANLAR, I liked that very much and joined them. I was lucky enough to be elected as treasurer first, and then a few years as president-elect. We got along pretty well in what we wanted to do and what we wanted to achieve”, he points out.
Until that moment it was something smaller that “carried little weight in the national societies”, Little presence and that “made a good congress, first it was every four years, then it was every two, but very based on the activities of the society that organized the congress”. It was proposed then that PANLAR take command of the actions it was doing and reinforce itself as a structure, a stronger organization, with statutes and laws. “It could also be established as a non-profit organization in the United States”.
He has many friends in Argentina, thanks to rheumatology, he could name many, “they have helped me a lot, they are very good friends of mine. We have done many things here in the society”, he says. In the Pan-American rheumatology he also has many colleagues that have also become friends.
- How does Enrique Soriano define himself as a person and as a doctor?
- As a person I think I am quite hardworking, entrepreneur, a bit messy, and committed, I would say. I also believe that I am responsible, but sometimes because of my disorder I fail in my responsibilities, I might forget something I had agreed to, and it is not because I don’t want to do it, but because in my disorder I didn’t notice it. I think I am responsible, but only mildly because of my disorder -, he replies after taking a few seconds to think about it. Every word is said with the certainty of knowing who he is. “In general, I accept almost everything that is asked of me, I have a very easy ‘yes’, one could say”, he adds.
-And as a doctor?
- As a doctor I think that I am very professional. I am not as empathetic with patients as they say (laughs), I am not one of those that patients love on the first consult, but over time, we learn to appreciate each other. Sometimes I admire those who have the doctor calling, in my case, that calling was growing, I don’t think that I have been a vocational doctor because I liked helping patients and empathizing with them.
He is also the Director of the master’s degree in Clinical Research and Director of the Postgraduate Department at the Instituto Universitario Hospital Italiano of Buenos Aires. “My evolution has been more towards that, dedicating myself to teaching and to research”, hey says.
He loves academics, studying, reading, researching. “I love teaching much more than treating patients”, he affirms, “although I like seeing patients when I have enough time to spend with them”. Little by little he is dedicating himself more to academics: participating in discussions, forums, teaching, generating educational projects.
“On a personal level I am well, happy with my situation and with my achievements”, he says. On a professional level he thinks that he has achieved many of the things that he has set out to do. “Overall, I would say that I am happy”.
The missing accomplishments are what are escalating at PANLAR and at the hospital level he seeks to leave an orderly succession, “that people who follow me continue with the guidelines. That is a bit of a challenge, to learn to delegate and step aside”.