A Passion and Pride for Advocacy and Medicine


A Passion and Pride for Advocacy and Medicine

This is the second story in a series for Pride month. Read the introduction and first story.

Throughout his career, Dr. Alejandro Arancibia has engaged with various causes. As an Argentinian gay man who has a 14-year-old Black daughter and has lived in Brazil for 25 years, he has championed everything from LGBTQIA+ rights to equity for people of color and women. His engagement on these issues has been in parallel with his pursuit of science, medicine, and health equity in the global South. “I love challenges and I love my job,” says Dr. Arancibia, who is medical director at Amgen in Brazil.

Dr Arancibia and Amgen Team

Dr. Alejandro Arancibia (far right) with his team at Amgen Brazil.

Born in the mountains of Argentina, Dr. Arancibia left home when he was 17 years old to do a student exchange program in Ohio. He remembers breaking his leg while skiing there. “It was the first time I had ever seen snow,” he recalls. 

Shortly after that experience, Dr. Arancibia decided he wanted to become a physician and earned an MD at Universidad Nacional de Cuyo in Mendoza, Argentina. He would go on to specialize in pediatrics and then oncology after working with a child who had cancer. Due to the economic crisis in Argentina, he decided to move to Brazil to do pediatric oncology, looking at solid tumors. 

arancibia and daughter
Dr. Arancibia with his daughter and a friend
at the São Paulo gay pride parade.

At that time, he met his future husband and was then invited to open a new cancer center in São Paulo in a region that serves about 7 million people. “It was a very poor region with a lot of slums, and there was a big need for better health services,” he explains.

After working in the public health system for 10 years, Dr. Arancibia and his husband adopted a daughter from northern Brazil and decided to move to a more rural region of Brazil to give her more exposure to nature. He worked in a hospital there but then moved again some years later to work for an NGO in South Brazil, doing global collaborative work in clinical oncology that would lead to a new consortium in pediatric oncology for Central and Latin America. “It was great to focus on teaching and producing science,” he says. But he wanted to move closer to the patient again and decided to transition to the biopharmaceutical industry.

Dr. Arancibia started as a medical advisor at Amgen and moved up to become medical director, overseeing work in medical affairs and clinical trials. As a member and past leader of the PRIDE employer resource group at Amgen in Brazil, he is excited to bring more visibility to the LGBTQIA+ community. 

“I think we have a lot of rights in Brazil, but we are still the top in the world for countries that kill the most transsexuals,” he says. “I know that kids today can be who they are in the streets, but in some areas, they cannot.” Brazil is home to one of the largest gay pride parades in the world, with about 4 million people attending this year’s event in São Paulo.

A priority for Arancibia in his current position is bringing programming to the office that will expose individuals to new perspectives, especially ones that intersect with the other employee resource groups at Amgen, including those for women, the disabled, and Black people. For example, he is planning a talk this month about “fat phobia” that will be led by a Black, transexual nutritionist. “Having these intersectional conversations is very important,” he says. 

Next in our PRIDE Month series, read about Myra Coufal’s path in science.

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