Diaspora Educators Attacked

PROVIDENCE, RI – Eleftherios Mylonakis, MD, PhD, chief of infectious diseases at Rhode Island Hospital and the Miriam Hospital, was among the five-member committee invited to assess the University of Athens, but were confronted with protest and opposition.

A group of unknown individuals verbally and physically assaulted the prominent professors and scientists, all of whom teaching at institutions of higher learning outside Greece.

Dr. Mylonakis told TNH “I do not know who they were, I have no way of knowing. It was a surprise, the whole incident. They had closed us in and we couldn’t get out. I felt I was imprisoned for the first time in my life, it was shock.”

Mylonakis, a highly regarded physician-scientist, served as a physician for 14 years at Massachusetts General Hospital and taught at Harvard Medical School.

Not wanting to focus solely on the negative aspects of the trip, he praised those professors and students “who are trying to keep the University on a high level,” and said “we have achieved many things.”

The trip’s purpose was because assessment is a very basic element in every University and it is done everywhere in the world.” Given Greece’s economic situation, he added, he couldn’t refuse the invitation.

An alumnus himself – he earned a MD and PhD there – Mylonakis could not say no to his alma mater. “We believed we could provide some proposals which would help the University, which is spread in four different parts of the city. Every family here experiences the results of an economic catastrophe,” he said.

“The students are trying very hard to complete their undergraduate and graduate studies,” even as they see an unemployment rate for youth that is approximately 50%. “What dreams can these young men and women have?”

Mylonakis fulfilled his internship and residency in internal medicine at Miriam, where he also served as chief resident. He then completed a fellowship in infectious diseases as Massachusetts GH. He is also a professor of medicine at Brown University’s Warren Alpert Medical School.

Mylonakis heads the infectious disease division at both Alpert and Miriam, and oversees one of the Miriam’s largest research divisions, with major initiatives underway in HIV/AIDS, viral hepatitis, hospital-acquired infections, tuberculosis, substance abuse, and prisoner health.

Mylonakis is internationally recognized for his research on the study of host and microbial factors of infection and the discovery of antimicrobial agents, or substances that kill or inhibit the growth of microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi. His research has received support from the National Institute of Health and the Ellison Medical Foundation, and he has published more than 150 peer-reviewed scientific articles and book chapters.

Mylonakis has edited five books on infectious diseases and is also the Founding Editor-in-Chief of Virulence, an international peer-reviewed journal that focuses on microbial infections and host-pathogen interactions.

His accomplishments have led to several prestigious national awards, including the American Society for Microbiology’s Young Investigator Award and the Infectious Disease Society of America’s prestigious Oswald Avery Award. He is also a 2011 inductee to the American Society for Clinical Investigation.


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