I’ve just about completed my yearly round of poke, prod, scrape and squash tests and found a tidbit to keep in mind for your next pub trivia night. The pap smear test was developed by Dr.George Papanicolaou (yes, he was Greek), in the 1930’s.
He graduated from medical school (Athens) in 1904, and began his medical career first as an assistant surgeon in the military and then caring for patients at a leper colony.
In 1914 he took up a position of assistant in the Department of Anatomy at New York’s Cornell Medical School. Along the way he had earnt a PhD in Zoology from the University of Munich, Germany. At Cornell Dr. Papanicolaou first worked with guinea pigs – examining vaginal smears to determine the existence of a menstrual cycle.
In 1920, Dr. Papanicolaou began his study of vaginal cytology of the human female. In 1928 he published a paper about the results of his work, entitled, “New Cancer Diagnosis”. Also in 1928 he became a US Citizen and took the position of Assistant Professor of Anatomy at Cornell.
In 1939, the reevaluation of the vaginal smear for cancer detection began as all female patients at New York Hospital were required to take a routine vaginal smear. Dr. Herbert Traut, a gynecological pathologist, worked with Dr. Papanicolaou to validate the diagnostic potential of the vaginal smear. In 1943, they published their findings in the “Diagnosis of Uterine Cancer by the Vaginal Smear.” The diagnostic procedure was named the Pap test.
Papanicolaou’s wife Mary (referred to as Mrs. Pap), was also his assistant and allegedly endured a smear test every day while her husband worked on developing the pap diagnostic test.
Lady Mary Papanicolaou, who before her marriage had the magnificent name Andromachque Mavroyeni, was later awarded the Order of Saint Helen* in honor of her important contribution to medical science as an assistant to her husband!
*The Most August and Most Ancient Imperial Order of Saint Helen. The Orders of Constantine the Great and of Saint Helen are Orders of Knighthood, founded in 312 AD , whose members are dedicated to the Chivalric Principles of Personal Honor, Courage, Integrity, Duty, Charity and Service.
I’d say she went beyond her “duty” as a wife …..