From Vrisa, Lesvos to the “top” of Harvard
Three of his innovative methods do rank the 74 year old Ophtalmology Professor from Vrisa among the top 100 opthalmologists worldwide, and the Harvard Unversity in Massachussets has given his name to the specialised Chair of Studies while hunging his portrait in the auditorium of the Clinic Eye and Ear Massachusetts and while his bust graces the Harvard Campus courtyard .
Evangelos Gragoudas is recently awarded by the Champalimaud Vision Award 2014 which is considered scientifically close to a Nobel Prize on Vision and Ophtalmology research , and is a proud Lesvian abroad, who as he says, saw with the eyes of Literature and Philosophy the world when he was studying at the High school of Polychnitos, and that’s how, he says, he did it to “save the world” in his own way.
Hailing from Vrisa, a small, picturesque village of 1,000 inhabitants in the south of Lesvos, the leading Greek scientist excels the last 46 years in America, where he teaches ophthalmology, but also … Cavafy.
The Alexandrian poet, Cavafy, has a prominent place in his office at Harvard, where there is a large photo of the lyrics from “Ithaca”:
“the Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,the angry Poseidon do not fear, such ones in your way you will never find “.
In the age of 74 years, Evangelos Gragoudas is still working feverishly, operating surgeries three times a week on complicated ophthalmological cases while training new scientists. Due to his immense love for Greece, he always greets with joy and pride young doctors from home, while the «Gragoudas Chair» of Harvard is funded with 3.5 million Dollars.
On Friday, December 4, 2015, Evangelos Gragoudas received an honorary doctorate of the Department of Medicine, by Aristoteleion University of Thessaloniki where he spoke with tears to the press for the love for his country.
“All of us who live for years abroad, and have learned to another way of progress and and evaluation, we are saddened when we realize that our homeland , our country, Greece, is moving back or stays stagnant.”
“Even now, we must change our culture, by trying to adapt the structures of the system to the new circumstances. The crisis in the economy should make us wiser, more mature and more fair. “
On the age of 15 years Evangelos Gragoudas, while still studying in the high school Polichnitos, he had read all the books of the small library of his village.
On his 20’s,being a medical student at the University of Athens Medical School, he translated with a classmate notes from foreign scientifical loterature and together they distributed to their fellow students an ophthalmology manual, which was a pleasant surprise for their professors.
In 1969 he left Greece for Boston and and soon he won a scholarship to Harvard Medical School, where he studied and afterwards taught for many years “It was like living in a dream. I always had in mind the verse of Ithaca … … …” hope the voyage to be a long one …” I really wanted to traverse distant streets literally and figuratively, I realize now ” he says.
The 74 year old professor comes 2-3 times a year in Greece, in his residence he reserves in Athens, but also in his hometown’s one in Vrisa of Lesvos.
Visit our latest published greek2m.org Special Lesvians Page and enjoy the beauty and the significance of Gragoudas’ hometown, Vrisa, which stands there, in Lesvos, since the early humans stepped earth, many million years before. Learn why
“I miss Greece. It is the most beautiful country in the world, because it is always sunny, surrounded by the sea, people are joyous and welcoming, has a rich history. It is a place to live, ” he says, but he thinks long enough before answering the question if you he would like to return back from the States .
“Having read quite a lot of philosophy, actually since my young age, I have overcome my fears. I know I am temporary, I know what I want, I know every moment what to do … but I have no answer still. We will see….”