Belisário Augusto de Oliveira Penna was born in the Minas Gerais town of Barbacena on November 29, 1868. He graduated from the Bahia School of Medicine in 1890. In 1904, he moved to Rio de Janeiro, where he joined the General Directorate of Public Health as a sanitary inspector. He led the fight against rural endemic diseases in various corners of Brazil as a public health specialist. Alongside Oswaldo Cruz, he combated malaria during construction of the Madeira-Mamoré Railroad and fought yellow fever in Belém, Pará. In 1912, he and Arthur Neiva undertook a scientific and sanitary expedition to the Northeast and Central-West. In his capacity as one of the leaders of Brazil’s sanitary movement, he became head of the Rural Prophylaxis Service in 1918 and, two years later, of the Rural Sanitation Directorate, which was part of the National Department of Public Health. Following the Revolution of 1930, he was appointed director of the National Department. Around the same period, he threw his support behind the integralist movement. He died in Rio de Janeiro on November 4, 1939.