He is best known for creating the Papanicolaou test, commonly known as the Pap smear, which revolutionised the early detection of cervical cancer. He attended the University of Athens, majoring not in biology, but music and the humanities. However, his physician father influenced his eventual decision to pursue a career in medicine. In , he graduated from medical school with top honours. After graduation, Papanicolaou worked in the military as an assistant surgeon for a short time, then returned to his hometown, Kimi.
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It is near the southern town of Karystos known for the ancient physician Diokles of Karystos Diocles of Carystus said to have been "second only to Hippocrates. As a boy he loved outdoor life, particularly mountain hiking av boating. He had one brother and two sisters.
He attended school in Athens from the age of 11, and in entered the University of Athens to study humanities and music. He subsequently served as an assistant surgeon in the military until For the next year he took care of patients at a leper colony north of his hometown of Kimi. However, Papanicolaou wanted to work in medical science, and in he went to Jena, Germany, for postgraduate study at the Zoological Institute in Munich, the greatest zoological research centre in the world at that time.
En route to Paris, Papanicolaou stopped for a visit at the Oceanographic Institute of Monaco and accepted an unexpected offer to join its staff. He worked for one year as a physiologist and then returned to Greece upon the death of his mother. Here he married Andromache Mavroyeni who went by the name Mary, the daughter of a high-ranking military officer. During the Balkan War, , he served as second lieutenant in the medical corps of the Greek army, fighting the Turks.
With his wife and future research companion, he then went to the United States of America. They landed at Ellis Island on October 19, with just enough money for their visas and speaking no English.
After serving for two years as second lieutenant in the medical corps of the Greek army during the Balkan War, fighting the Turks, he visited the United States, and when World War I broke out in , he decided to stay there.
His first job in the US was as a rug salesman. He played violin at restaurants, and was a clerk for a Greek-language newspaper, while Mary worked as a tailor. However, Papanicolaou soon found appointment as assistant in the pathology department of New York Hospital, and in he became assistant in anatomy at Cornell Medical College.
Papanicolaou obtained American citizenship in His research was devoted almost exclusively to the physiology of reproduction and exfoliative cytology, at the New York Hospital and the Cornell Medical College, two affiliated institutions, each of which has named a laboratory in his honour.
He was designated professor emeritus of clinical anatomy at Cornell in In November Papanicolaou moved to Florida and became director of the Miami Cancer Institute, but died three months later of acute myocardial infarction.
An indefatigable worker, Papanicolaou is said never to have taken a vacation. He was described as a modest man. In , the U. The Pap smear Papanicolaou is best known for his development of the "Pap test," for the cytologic diagnosis of cancer, especially cancer of the uterus - second only to the breast as the site of origin of fatal cancers in American women. The work that eventually resulted in his life-saving smear and test, began in when he began the study of sex chromosomes in guinea pigs.
If so, one should be able to obtain the necessary information from the vaginal secretions. Thus what was probably the first Pap smear — from a guinea pig. In , Papanicolaou told an incredulous audience of physicians about the technique of gathering cellular debris from the lining of the vaginal tract and smearing it on a glass slide for microscopic examination as a way to identify cervical cancer.
That year he had undertaken a study of vaginal fluid in women, in hopes of observing cellular changes over the course of a menstrual cycle. In female guinea pigs, Papanicolaou had already noticed cell transformation and wanted to corroborate the phenomenon in human females. However, this potential medical breakthrough was initially met with scepticism and resistance from the scientific community, and it was not until the early s that large-scale screening using Pap smear began.
This resulted in a historic drop in the incidence of cervical cancer among American women. Much of his work was done in collaboration with the biochemist Charles Rupert Stockard and E. His studies on human beings, from , was done to a large degree in collaboration with the gynaecologist Herbert Frederick Traut We thank John A.
Bibliography G. Papanicolaou and C. American Journal of Anatomy, , The vaginal smear test for oestrus. It demonstrates the histological changes occurring in the vagina during the menstrual cycle. Papanicolaou and Herbert Traut: The diagnostic value of vaginal smears in carcinoma of the uterus.
American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, St. Louis, , Smear diagnosis of carcinoma of the cervix. Papanicolaou first reported in that he could recognise cancer cells but the importance of his findings was not generally accepted and he abandoned the work for some years. New York, Papanicolaou: Atlas of Exfoliative Cytology. Cambridge, Massachusetts, Journal of the American Medical Association, , Speert: Obstetric and Gynecologic Milestones.
New York, , p
Greek-American Physician G eorge Nicholas Papanicolaou was the originator of the Pap test used in the diagnosis of cervical cancer. Papanicolaou, born in Greece, undertook his medical training at the University of Athens, where he earned his medical degree in In , Papanicolaou earned a Ph. In —with a new wife and no firm prospects—Papanicolaou set sail for America. After working briefly as a salesman in a department store and playing the violin in restaurants, Papanicolaou secured a research position at Cornell Medical College, where he quickly rose to the rank of instructor. During these studies Papanicolaou noted cyclical changes in various vaginal discharges from test animals that Papanicolaou linked to the ovarian and uterine cycles.
George Nicholas Papanicolaou 1883-1962
It is near the southern town of Karystos known for the ancient physician Diokles of Karystos Diocles of Carystus said to have been "second only to Hippocrates. As a boy he loved outdoor life, particularly mountain hiking av boating. He had one brother and two sisters. He attended school in Athens from the age of 11, and in entered the University of Athens to study humanities and music. He subsequently served as an assistant surgeon in the military until
George Papanicolaou (1883–1962): Discoverer of the Pap smear
Urged by his father, he pursued a medical degree, which he received in Afterwards, he was conscripted into military service. When his obligation ended in , he returned to Kymi to practice medicine with his father. In , he began studying under Ernst Haeckel at University of Jena for one semester before moving to University of Freiburg , where he was supervised by August Weismann. Again he left after one semester, this time to join University of Munich , from which he graduated with a doctoral degree in zoology in
George N. Papanicolaou
His scientific innovations, including the Pap smear, helped establish the field of cytology. Submit Receive an email when new articles are posted on this topic. Papanicolaou was born on May 13, He was the third child of Nikolas and Maria Papanicolaou.