Professor Spyros Marketos (1931-2012): my inspiration


Professor Spyros Marketos (1931-2012). Past President of the International Hippocratic Foundation of Kos (1991 to 2000)

‘Galen’ – first pointed me to Hippocrates‘Galen’, not the great physician philosopher of ancient times but a ‘modern’ version who, for me, was no less inspiring, was the pseudonym used in Kathimerini, a daily newspaper in Greece, by a Professor of the History of Medicine in Athens, Dr Spyros Marketos. Every Sunday, absorbed by his words, I found inspiration particularly about his accounts of the lives and work of great medical scientists that had shaped modern medicine; the pathologist, George Papanikolaou, DNA pioneers James Watson and Francis Crick.

In 1987, while still a medical student in Northern Greece, I wrote to ‘Galen’ asking to meet him. ‘Galen’, Professor Marketos, replied inviting me to visit him. Travelling overnight in the sleeper of a slow train from Thessaloniki to Athens, I arrived as the sun appeared on the horizon. I stayed in a small hotel near the Acropolis and walked to his office in Kolonaki, in Athens. This was to be the first of countless trips over the next few years. 

Professor Marketos had invited me to join his circle of young medical students studying the history and philosophy of medicine. And so my journey began. 

Studying the books in the Hippocratic Corpus, I discovered that Hippocrates and his followers knew how to use diet to restore health in people. Despite the fact that they did not have our anatomical, biochemical and physiological understanding, they used methods from an understanding of the needs of the human body. 

From ‘Galen’ and my own interest in Hippocrates, I went on to study for an MSc in Nutritional Medicine at the University of Surrey, the first university-level, evidence-based Masters degree course in this subject in the UK.

Recently, on a visit to Kos, continuing my research into the life of Hippocrates, my journey has, in a sense also brought me back to ‘Galen’.

I feel truly indebted to Professor Spyros Marketos who inspired me at the beginning of my medical career. 


Kos – the Island of Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine


I just returned from a trip to Kos, the birthplace of Hippocrates, the father of Medicine.

This is an exceptional island which is blessed with the most extraordinary flora.

Some of the plants and trees are unique and rare.

Kos has a mild climate, rich soil and amazing sea and surroundings, which not only feed the people with nutritious food but also provide beautiful sights to nurture their soul. 

It is not perhaps by coincidence that Hippocrates developed his medical theories and practice on this place. 

Walking in the centre of the town of Kos, near the plane tree under which Hippocrates allegedly taught his students, I discovered and photographed many edible plants that also have great nutritional power and healing properties. A few of them are seen in the slide above.


The Therapeutic Power of Food – From Hippocrates to Modern Science

The Greek Society of Ethnopharmacology is organising a conference dedicated to ‘Hippocratic Medicine’, on Saturday the 28th of April, at the island of Kos, Greece

I will present some of my research findings on the Hippocratic approach to food and diet and how modern science can help us understand further its therapeutic value.

More details (in Greek) here: