The Greek doctor whose achievements helped save millions of women’s lives.

Described by many as one of the most brilliant scientific minds of the 20th century, Georgios Papanikolaou is recognised for developing the life-saving cervical cancer test also known as Pap smear or Pap test. 

Born on the Greek island of Euboea on May 13, 1883, Papanikolaou was one of four children.He attended the University of Athens, majoring in music and the humanities. According to the tradition of those times, the firstborn son had to follow his father’s steps, but as his brother chose law, Papanikolaou, who was already showing an inclination towards medicine, took up the responsibility instead. 

In 1898, aged only 15, he managed to get into the School of Medicine of the National University of Athens and, after graduation, he worked in the military as an assistant surgeon for a short time. In 1904, he graduated with top honours. He returned to Greece and for the next two years, he cared for leprosy patients on the outskirts of his hometown. 

The scientist also used this time to study philosophy and biology. But, he discovered scientific research fascinated him.

Aware of this, his father decided to send him to Germany for further studies and it was during this time that the scientist decided that research and biology would be the purpose of his life.

He received a PhD in zoology in 1910. 

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