Dr George Papanicolaou was proposed for the Nobel Prize on 1948,1949,1951,1953 and 1959.
As Alfred Nobel defined in his will, the Medicine Award is granted to an important discovery and not to the implementation of a new method or to the total contribution of a researcher to science.
We should mention that the evaluations provided to the nominees by the Nobel committee are of three types:
1. Complete evaluation
2. Preliminary evaluation
3. Non evaluation
During the four times that he had been a nominee,18 proposals were made in favour of him.
1948 was the only time when two proposals in favour of Papanicolaou received the preliminary evaluation.
On 10 January 1953, the Professor of Forensic medicine in the Medical Faculty of Athens, Dr Grigorios Katsas, referring to Papanicolaou’s nomination for the Nobel, wrote:
“I believe that the Prize should be devoted to a scientist who has opened new scientific paths and has offered precious services not only to Medicine, but to the suffering humanity as well.
As a scientist who satisfies these requirements, I propose for the Nobel Prize 1953, Dr George Papanicolaou, professor of Clinical Anatomy in Cornell University Medical College, USA.
Professor G. Papanicolaou has presented very remarkable work on a lot of subjects that are connected to medical biology.
His method of early diagnosis of latent cancer is nowadays worldwide approved. This method/ Pap-, that was initially applied for the diagnosis of cancer of uterus, has been successfully applied to detect cancer of stomach and of respiratory tract. Given that cancer is treated only when detected on time, it is obvious that this method is for the greatest interest of the suffering humanity.
Moreover, Professor Papanicolaou as a genuine servant of Science, disseminated and offered without any pecuniary prospect his method to mankind. For all these reasons, I believe that professor George Papanicolaou deserves to be honoured with the Nobel Prize 1953”.
On 1959, the professor of Gynecology and Obstetrics and vice-president of Nobel committee Dr Axel Westman, wished the Prize be granted to Papanicolaou.
Thanks to his support, the nomination of the Greek researcher reached the the final voting in the General Assembly. However the untimely death of Westman a few months before the final voting, was decisive for Papanicolaou’s awarding.
The majority of the committee was predisposed to reward Ochoa and Kornberg for “the discovery of the mechanism of the biological composition of RNA and DNA”. The rapid growth of molecular Biology rendered necessarily henceforth the support of researchers, who would give further impulse to this particular speciality of Medicine.
*The evidence on Papanicolaou nomination is included in the exceptional article written by Leonidas Charisiadis (doctor /oncologist – Washington DC), who had closely studied the subject of Papanicolaou’s not rewarding with the Nobel Prize. The article was published in the “Archives of Euboean Studies “, volume M, 2013-15.