Georgios Papanikolaou: Smear test inventor honoured by Google Doodle - who was he?

15 Mai, 2019, 13:37 | Auteur: Yves Courtet
  • Google Doodle honoring Georgios Papanikolaou

The results of the study, however, were undeniable: Papanikolaou was able to detect a significant number of early cancers with his method, and in 1952, the first mass screening program launched in Tennessee (773 of 10,000 women were diagnosed with cancer thanks to that test).

Its effect on reducing fatalities from the disease are hard to calculate accurately, but Cancer Research estimates that rates have nearly halved in the United Kingdom since cervical screening was introduced in the 1980s.

All this should suggest the direction of work of Georgios Papanikolaou.

Monday's Google Doodle paid tribute to Georgios Papanikolaou, the Greek medic and researcher who invented the smear test to detect early signs of cervical and uterine cancer.

Initially he was interested in music and humanities, but his father encouraged him to follow in his footsteps and become a doctor. He received his medical degree from the University of Athens in 1904, and a PhD from the University of Munich six years later.

When he returned to Greece he married the educated and open-ended Andromachi Mavroyenis.

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Georgios tried to make a living by selling carpets and playing violin in restaurants, and his wife sewed buttons. With his wife by his side as a technician and sometimes-test-subject, Papanikolaou began studying sex determination in guinea pigs, and quickly found that some cells in the vagina and uterus changed throughout the menstrual cycle.

"The first observation of cancer cells in the smear of the uterine cervix was one of the most thrilling experiences of my scientific career", Papanicolaou is widely quoted as saying. Even till this day, the Pap smear is considered to be a necessary tool in the fight against Cancer.

The revolutionising test saw Georgios he nominated for the Nobel Prize twice.

Today on Google's home page is a special Doodle, Google logo, for Georgios Papanikolaou.

Nominated twice for the Nobel Prize, Papanikolaou received the Albert Lasker Award for Clinical Medical Research in 1950 and his portrait appeared on the Greek 10,000 drachma banknote as well as a 1978 US postage stamp.

The Pap smear remains an important staple of female health care, typically performed every three years for women ages 21 to 65. Other honors bestowed upon him include appearing on the Greek 10,000 drachma banknote before the currency was replaced by the Euro, and appearing on a USA 13 cent stamp in 1978. But who was he?

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