NEW YORK – A very successful teleconference because of the pandemic was organized this year by the Hellenic Medical Society of New York (HMSNY) and its Chair of the Dr. George N. Papanicolaou Annual Event, Dr. Spyros Mezitis on May 17, and was well-attended by medical doctors, students, and friends from New York, Hellenic Medical Societies in the United States, Canada, and Europe.
Introductions by Dr. Spyros Mezitis, Past President of HMSNY, and Dr. Panagiotis Manolas, current President of HMSNY emphasized the contributions of Dr. Papanicolaou to science and Hellenism.
Dr. Heidi Stuhlmann, Chair of the Department of Cell and Development Biology at Weill Medical College where Dr. Papanicolaou served as Professor of Anatomy for 47 years and created the Pap test that has saved millions of women’s lives from cervical cancer, spoke of his influence on the Department and medical research.
Dr. Frank Chervenak, former Chair of Obstetrics-Gynecology (OB-GYN) at New York-Presbyterian Hospital and current Chair of OB-GYN at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City recounted his annual contributions to the medical symposium and emphasized the legacy of Dr. Papanicolaou.
Professor John Chrysoulakis, General Secretary of Hellenes Abroad and Public Diplomacy, Hellenic Ministry of Foreign Affairs, congratulated the HMSNY for the Annual Dr. Papanicolaou Symposia, commemorated Dr. Papanicolaou’s achievements, and invited participants to the International Hellenic Medical Society Conference in Thessaloniki, Greece on July 15-17, 2022.
Dr. Spyros Mezitis read the official letter from the President of the Hellenic Society of Cytopathologists, Dr. Maria Nasioutziki, who paid tribute to the thousands of women who have been saved by the Pap test and wished every success in the work of the HMSNY.
Tony Ringos, Past-President of the Panevoikos Society of America, followed and described Dr. Papanicolaou’s life in Greece, studies in Europe, and his immigration with his wife Andromachi to the United States.
Julie Kokkori, granddaughter of Dr. Papanicolaou, spoke from Athens, Greece, about the books written on Dr. Papanicolaou and the digitized archives on the internet.
Dr. Mezitis presented slides of Dr. Papanicolaou, Co-Founder of the HMSNY in 1936, the physician’s bust dedication at Weill Medical College in 1979, and the annual Dr. Papanicolaou Symposia at Cornell since 2003 including Physician Awards to Dr. Harald zur Hausen, 2008 Nobel Laureate in Medicine and Physiology, and to Dr. Roy Vagelos, former CEO of Merck, and chairman of the board of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals.
The Hellenic Medical Society has established an annual scholarship for a Weill Cornell medical student of Hellenic descent. Dr. Stella Lymberis, Past Vice-President of HMSNY and leading member of the HMSNY Dr. Papanicolaou Committee presented this year’s honoree Julianna Kostas, Weill Medical College Class of 2023. Ms. Kostas emphasized the importance of Dr. Papanicolaou’s research and the medical scholarship she received.
Furthermore, with the collaboration of educator Demosthenes Triantafillou, Founder of the Greek American Academy of Philosophy, Science, and Education, high school students of Hellenic descent from New York and New Jersey receive prizes for writing essays in Greek on the legacy of Dr. Papanicolaou. This year, ten high school students received awards and were profiled in a moving video.
Finally, the HMSNY honors annually with its Grand Dr. Papanicolaou Award a physician of exceptional contribution to medical science who delivers the keynote lecture.
This year, Dr. Rana Hoda, Staff Cytopathologist at CBL Path-Healthsource USA, Inc. and former Chief of the Cytopathology Laboratory at Cornell spoke on the Scientific Legacy of Dr. George N. Papanicolaou and received the 2022 Grand Award from Dr. Manolas.
In the Q&A Session, Dr. Christos Coutifaris, Vice-Chair of OB-GYN at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia described how his parents from Greece met at the Dr. Papanicolaou Cytology Laboratory at Cornell, were married with Dr. Papanicolaou as their best man and eventually godfather to their son, Dr. Coutifaris himself.
In closing, the virtual Journal advertisements of the sponsors were presented that included Professor Demosthenes Triantafillou, the Federation of Hellenic Medical Societies of North America, HMSNY President Dr. Panagiotis Manolas, Event Chair Dr. Spyros Mezitis, past HMSNY President Dr. George Liakeas, current Vice-President Dr. Frixos Goussis, and society member Dr. Apostolos Tassiopoulos.
The hope is that next May with the passing of the pandemic all can join in an in-person Dr. Papanicolaou conference at Cornell in New York City.