Physician (1887 – 1979)
During a council in Greece, a German professor said: “You can sleep quietly because Joakimoglou remains sleepless to ensure the safety of your medicine.”
A pioneer of modern pharmacology, he is credited as the first person to combine modern medicine with experimental pharmacology as well as the first person to prove the potential hazards of drugs and modern medicines. His research expanded to fields that had never been researched before.
He was born in Asia Minor in 1887 to an affluent family. He studied medicine in the University of Berlin and chemistry under Nobel prize winner Emil Fischer. He was appointed curator of the pharmacology lab in the University of Berlin in 1913 and Associate Professor of pharmacology in the Medical University of Berlin 1918. He became professor of pharmacology at the same university and then served as director of the university’s pharmacology lab.
In 1928, he was appointed Professor of experimental pharmacology in the University of Athens, director of the biochemical lab at the Greek hospital Evangelismos and became a regular member of the Academy of Athens, among many other honors. He also took over and the Athenian Pharmacology Lab, saving it from closing down.
Throughout his academic career, Joakimoglou published a series of books on pharmacology and numerous papers in medicine. Indicatively, 123 of his papers referred to pharmacology, 10 to physiology, 16 to microbiology and 9 to chemistry and toxicology. He also published several articles on hygiene, microbiology, chemistry, physiology and toxicology in German scientific magazines. At the time, he was one of the most respected and cited academics in Europe.
His biggest contribution was in the field of pharmacology and research. He was the first person to medicate arsphenamine in order to treat syphilis that was plaguing Smyrna. He developed groundbreaking methods of tracing poisonous substances in drugs. These methods were established in the international pharmacological bibliography and made Joakeimoglou a renowned pharmacologist.
He became the first person to research the chemical components of drugs and warn of their addiction and dangers both within and outside the medical establishment. He was responsible for banning by law several drugs and toxic medicines in Greece, including hasish and heroin 25 years earlier than Germany. He was also able to predict the disastrous hazards of the teratogenic drug thalidomide, which caused over 10,000 infants around the world to die from phocomelia. Thanks to Ioakimoglou, the drug was banned in Greece, saving thousands of lives.
He also became one of the first people to declare legal war against drugs. He served as vice-president and later president of the drug control division of the World Health Organization, inspecting and banning several drugs and hazardous medicines. Furthermore, he proved that several food colouring chemicals caused cancer and objected to their import in Greece.
Joakimoglou’s contribution to the science of medicine and pharmacology was recognized around the world at a very early stage of his life. In 1920, he was invited by prime minister Eleutherios Venizelos to establish and organize the University of Smyrna along with renowned mathematician Constantine Caratheodory. When he presented himself to the high commissioner of Smyrna, the commissioner remarked: “You are very young!”, to which Ioakimoglou replied: “Indeed sir, it is a setback. But trust me, it will improve over time“.
- Cosmote Tv. Those Who Dared. Cosmote Tv, 2016. Film.
- “Ioakeimoglou”. Helios New Encyclopaedic Dictionary. Passas, I. Athens, 1946. Print.
- Laskaratos, Giannis. “Αφιέρωμα Ο Ελληνικός 20ος αιώνας τα πρόσωπα”. Ta Nea, 1999 Web. 29 Jun. 2017.