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Greeks Gone West: The researcher from Galaxidi who discovered the gene for gigantism

6 December 2017

Constantine A. Stratakis is the lead investigator at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and Director of the Division of Genetics and Endocrinology (SEGEN) since its creation in 1999. Coming from Lasithi, Crete and Galaxidi, Fokida, he belongs to a first generation of Greek-American and grew up in Athens. One thing he is emphasising is that he is deeply influenced by his Cretan and Roumeli roots: "I spent all my summers as a child in Galaxidi and I still visit our summer house in the summer."

Mr. Stratakis is the head of the reasearch that led to discovery of a gene associated with excessive growth of children, known as gigantism.

In his own words...
"I was born and raised in Greece. Having finished Medical School and after a short stay in France, I came to America. I did my postdoctoral training and after that I did my medical practice in Pediatrics, Endocrinology and Genetics. "

On the idea of decrypting diseases:
"In the '90s, when the human genome program started, I had the idea of using the program's tools for disease research in Pediatrics and Endocrinology, two fields of clinical medicine I knew better, in order to find the causes of these diseases; the genes that cause them."

On the goals of the NICHD-NIH:
"The Institute was created with the idea that it will welcome patients from around the world. Patients will be in hospital beds, right next to laboratories and physicians that will simultaneously run labs and work with scientists to identify what causes their disease and quickly find the treatment. I couldn't I be happier anywhere else."

On what the future holds:
"I have many unanswered questions. I have a list of diseases whose genes I have not identified yet. I hope that in the years to come I will find the answers to most of these questions."

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