UNESCO recognizing the pioneering role of the Greek physician, biologist, and researcher, George Papanicolaou (1883 –1962) in Science, has responded positively to the Hellenic National Commission’s proposal to participate in the commemoration of the 50th anniversary from his death. George Papanicolaou is considered a “founding father of the field of Exfoliative Cytology”; he is the inventor of the Pap-test, an affordable medical examination with no complications, which is still used worldwide for the detection and prevention of cervical cancer and has saved the lives of millions of women worldwide.
For more information please visit the website of the Hellenic National Commission for UNESCO.
George Papanicolaou (1883-1962)
Dr. George Papanicolaou, a scientist, researcher, and a “founding father of the field of Exfoliative Cytology”, was the inventor of the Pap-test, an affordable medical examination with no complications, which is used worldwide for the detection and prevention of cervical cancer and has saved the lives of millions of women worldwide.
George Papanicolaou studied medicine at the University of Athens, and in 1907 he moved to Germany where he enrolled as a graduate student in Hertig’s Institute for Experimental Biology at the University of Munich.
In 1913 Papanicolaou immigrated to America (New York) and a year later obtained a full-time research position at Cornell Medical College in the Department of Anatomy under Prof. Charles Stockard. In 1917, he published with Stockard a definitive description of the histologic changes in the estrus cycle of the guinea pig.
During the 1920s he began to use his technique of examining vaginal smears under the microscope to study human vaginal cytology. In 1943, after a series of decisive publications, he published (with gynaecologist Herbert Traut) the now classic book Diagnosis of Uterine Cancer by the Vaginal Smear, and in 1954 the pioneering Atlas of Exfoliative Cytology.
In the mid 1940s, pathologists and cytologists began being trained on the using Dr. Papanicolaou’s techniques. During the 1950ies, in the diagnosis of cancer, exfoliative cytology began to receive worldwide recognition.
Papanicolaou died on February 1962.
George Papanicolaou authored over 150 publications and throughout his life he received over 50 awards and various honours (Albert Lasker Clinical Medical Research Award, Honor Medal of the American Cancer Society, Wien Award of Exfoliative Cytology, etc.).