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Stamen Grigorov, the discoverer of the bacteria that ferments milk and forms yogurt


The Bulgarian doctor and microbiologist investigated the health benefits of the traditional food of his country and also contributed to the achievement of the tuberculosis vaccine

The image of yogurt can transport us to Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria ... and we have it so incorporated into our diet and there are so many varieties, textures and flavors that we can think that it was always there as we know it.

It is true that yogurt can have more than 4,000 years of history, that literature names it for the first time in the 'Natural history', by Pliny 'The Elder', and that even the longevity of Abraham is attributed to the properties of yogurt in the Persian tradition, but the knowledge of the fermentation process that results in natural yogurt is barely a century old.

It was a Bulgarian scientist,

Stamen Grigorov

, more interested in Medicine than in Microbiology, who entered the gastronomic tradition par excellence of his country to investigate both the causes that produced yogurt and its supposed benefits for health.

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The son of a very humble peasant family, his parents made a great effort to allow him to study far from home with the intention that he would return as a school teacher.

But family expectations fell short because soon the young

Stamen Grigorov

stood out for his intuition and intelligence, and the doors opened to him to study at various European universities and learn from great scientists with whom he collaborated.

His eagerness to learn to answer questions led him to investigate the fermentation process of Bulgarian yogurt and to isolate the bacteria that produced it.

However, the scientific fame that he achieved did not take him away from practical medicine and he returned to his country to run a small hospital where he also managed to solve one of his obsessions, fighting tuberculosis, ahead of Fleming in the use of penicillin and those who then they became famous for discovering the vaccine against consumption: Albert Calmette and Camille Guérin.

Stamen Grigorov was

born on this day, October 27, 142 years ago, in 1878, in the town of Studen Izvor, in western Bulgaria.

He was the ninth of 12 children of an illiterate peasant family who saw in his son's education a future away from the countryside.

With great sacrifice they managed to get him to go abroad to study and become a teacher, but Stamen's vocation took another path.

The young Grigorov, passionate about science since he was a child, attended High School in France and decided to continue his university studies there.

He enrolled at the Faculty of Natural Sciences in Montpellier and later completed his medical studies in the Swiss city of Geneva, where he completed a doctorate.

At age 26

Stamen Grigoro

v married in Bulgaria, but returned to Geneva to begin work at the university as a research assistant to Professor Leon Massol.

A year later, Grigorov made the main discovery that has gone down in history.

After a short vacation in Bulgaria, his wife gave him some typical products of Bulgarian food, among which yogurt could not be missing.

The young scientist came to Professor Massol's laboratory with a pot of curdled yogurt and asked him for some directions before literally sticking to the microscope ...

Grigorov set out to investigate the original variety of Bulgarian yogurt, which can only be produced in Bulgaria and in some neighboring regions of the Balkan Peninsula.

With this yogurt it happens that in other natural climatic conditions the bacteria rapidly degenerate, lose their qualities and die.

Subsequent scientific studies have shown that the specific bacteria and temperature ranges necessary to produce yogurt naturally occur in this area.

Precisely the basis of the yogurt food in the Bulgarian diet was one of the assumptions to explain the greater longevity of the population in Europe.

The young

Stamen Grigorov

, after hundreds of long experiments, managed to discover and isolate the rod-shaped microorganism that causes the fermentation of milk and that results in the product that we all know today as yogurt.

He published a scientific paper on the discovery of the bacterium and later presented a report on Bulgarian yogurt at the Pasteur Institute in Paris.

In his honor, the new bacterium discovered was named by the scientific community 'Lactobacillus bulgaricus'.

A contribution to the popularization and fame of Bulgarian yogurt was made in 1908 by the Russian biologist and later Nobel Prize winner in Medicine Ilya Méchnikov.

According to his theory, the main cause of aging in humans is the accumulation of toxic substances in the body and the effect of putrefactive bacteria in the colon.

The bacteria discovered by Stamen Grigorov, claimed the scientist, held back the development of pathogenic bacteria, thereby delaying the body's aging process.

Despite the momentous discovery and the invitations Grigorov received to continue his scientific career in Switzerland, his true love of practical medicine led him to return to Bulgaria.

There he headed the hospital in the small Bulgarian town of Tran, very close to his birthplace.

Grigorov made another important contribution to society with the discovery of a treatment against tuberculosis, although the vaccine was a work later recognized by Albert Calmette and Camille Guérin due to the lack of means and funding to patent Stamen their finding.

On December 20, 1906, in Paris, in number 104 of the medical journal 'La Presse Médicale', he published his scientific report 'The tuberculosis vaccine', which informed the scientific community about the results of the Bulgarian scientist's research on the application of penicillin mushrooms for the treatment of tuberculosis.

After the publication the scientific community expressed great interest in the discovery of Grigorov who, through his scientific experiments 'in vitro' and 'in vivo' in laboratory animals and later in human patients, clearly demonstrated and described the effect. curative of penicillin fungi in the treatment of tuberculosis.

That was always Stamen Grigorov's medical dream: to fight tuberculosis, which at the beginning of the 20th century had become a veritable scourge in Europe.

Successive wars at the beginning of the century did not help to contain the disease, and Bulgaria was no exception, so in 1912 Dr. Grigorov decided to go to the forefront to help the soldiers and put his discovery into practice.

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During that time he treated thousands of soldiers and civilians wounded or sick with cholera and tuberculosis, and lacking adequate medications, he even managed to get ahead of the English microbiologist Alexander Fleming, discoverer of penicillin, by managing to alleviate the condition of his patients and even cure some of them feeding them moldy bread covered in the penicillin fungus.

At the end of World War I, Dr.

Stamen Grigorov

was awarded a Cross of Courage and the Golden Red Cross. He returned to the Bulgarian hospital in Tran after again rejecting two invitations to work in Geneva and Brazil.

However, he accepted that of an Italian hospital in Milan where he devoted himself entirely to the treatment of tuberculosis.

The curiosity with which he worked all his life to resolve doubts and find a scientific response to events also occurs on the date of his death, which occurred at the age of 67, in 1945, and on the same day he was born, on December 27. October.

Five years ago, to commemorate the 110th anniversary of the scientific discovery of the bacteria that produce yogurt, a scientific conference was held in the Bulgarian capital to further value its contribution to humanity and a yogurt festival in the town of Tran .

Also in his honor, the 'Grigorov' glacier is named after him on Brabant Island, in the Palmer Archipelago of Antarctica.

Finally, his hometown, Studen Izvor, today houses one of the few yogurt museums in the world.

Source: elparis

All life articles on 2020-10-27

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