Professor ponders opening health institute in Greece

Dr Dimitrios Trichopoulos received his medical degree from the University of Athens in 1963, a master of science in public health from Harvard University in 1968 and a doctorate from the University of Athens in 1971. He is currently the Vincent L. Gregory professor of cancer prevention in the department of epidemiology at Harvard University’s School of Public Health. He is a renowned cancer epidemiologist – a writer for Harvard once called him «Epidemiology’s Odysseus» – and has co-edited two textbooks on epidemiology and cancer etiology. This year, Trichopoulos received a $5.8 million Innovator Grant from the US Department of Defense to study fetal issues connected to the onset of adult breast cancer. The US gives the award to people who have shown a «history of visionary scholarship, leadership and creativity.» His research connecting passive smoking and lung cancer has also been lauded. Harvard awarded him the 2004 Julius B. Richmond Award – the School of Public Health’s highest honor – for his research on secondhand smoke. In addition,Trichopoulos and his wife Antonia, who is also a doctor, have studied the Mediterranean diet’s role in decreasing cancer and heart disease, and prolonging life. Trichopoulos wants to see more medical research based in Greece, so he intends to establish a research institution on Greek health here. His wife Antonia and another family will also help start the new research center. Trichopoulos told Kathimerini that the compulsory link between medical research and industry, as imposed by the European Union funding regulations, ends up perverting the research to suit the industry’s aims. «There is a category of researchers, like myself, who are interested in figuring out how nature works, and we don’t care about industry’s technological advancement or profit,» he said. He also said he believes high-quality medical research exists in Greece, despite the lack of technological support in medicine here throughout the years. He says Greek medicine should try drawing support from private sources, where «there are enlightened people who have the power to boost research and education.» Finally, he does not believe new legislation setting up assessment standards for medical schools in Greece will be effective. «A lot of hope has been expressed that the institutions will improve because of the law,» he said. «I do not share this optimistic view… The law that will introduce the assessments is too bureaucratic and will devalue education and research.»

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