HAMDS Honors Promising Greek American Medical Students


HUNTINGTON BEACH, CA – The Hellenic American Medical & Dental Society’s  (HAMDS) recent Scholarship Dinner & Entertainment  Ceremony in Huntington Beach, CA featured as its guest speaker Diane Kochilas, a pioneer of healthy Greek Cuisine and prolific cook book author.

HAMDS was established in 1980 by Dr. James G. Kallins, an obstetrician-gynecologist, who had practiced in the community for more than 40 years, and the first president of the society was Dr. George C. Emmanouilides, Professor of Pediatrics at UCLA.

HAMDS’ mission is to promote the art and science of medicine among physicians, to encourage research and education and most importantly to sponsor, support and guide students of Hellenic descent who want to excel on the health science fields. To accomplish that, HAMDS established the S. James Vamvas Scholarship Fund in 1986. The dinner is the main fundraising event and offers the opportunity of financial assistance to medical and dental students  of Hellenic descent who attend medical or dental schools in California. Since 1988, the Fund has awarded 151 scholarships  totaling over $200,000.

This past year, HAMDS awarded six scholarships and its president, Dr. Andrew G. Gianoukakis, Associate Professor of Medicine at UCLA, told TNH that ”all 6 recipients were particularly accomplished and deserving of the acknowledgement.” He added that ”for the first time we awarded a family sponsored scholarship, the Spiros and Joan Phillips Scholarship.  The development of more  privately sponsored perpetual  scholarships is one of my goals as President.”


L to R: Evangelos Bartsokas (Dental student) being awarded a HAMDS scholarship by Sam Harkiss DDS, Andrew Gianoukakis MD, Petros Giannikopoulos MD, E. Mike Vasssilomanolakis MD.

The theme for scholarship dinner was to raise awareness for the Blue Zones, geographic areas where people live considerably longer lives and who share common lifestyles characteristics such as physical activity, social engagement and healthy diet.  One of the blue zones is the Hellenic island of Ikaria, and appropriately the guest chef Diane Kochilas spent many summers there, which is her parents’ native island.

Kochilas is the host of the most popular cooking show in Greece ‘What’s Cooking Today Mom? and she  is the consulting chef at three of the most popular Greek restaurants in the United States.

She also offers cooking classes through her Glorious Greek Kitchen Cooking school on Ikaria and culinary tours in various regions around Greece. Kochilas is also a prolific author, having written 18 cookbooks and at the dinner she talked about her book Lessons on Food, Life, and Longevity “from the Greek island where people forget to die.” The menu of the event was specifically designed by Kochilas to reflect the healthy Ikarian diet, and she discussed the island’s lifestyle.

HAMDS joined the Federation of Hellenic Medical Societies of the United States in 2000 and maintains contact with organizations of its kind such as the Hellenic Medical Society of New York. Dr. Gianoukakis told TNH that the society’s future plans include ”increasing membership and involvement of Southern California physicians and dentists, developing a mentoring and networking electronic  platform with participation of current and former awardees, and increasing societal awarding through philanthropy.” More information is available at hamds.org.


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