University of Minnesota

Anastasios Dontas, MD

Born: 1921

Andy Dontas is a pioneer of CVD epidemiology, initiating field studies in 1957 in Crete. Born in Athens, he was educated at the University of Athens, where he received an MD in 1946 and PhD in 1948, after which he was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Michigan for three years followed by a fellowship at the Laboratory of Physiological Hygiene at the University of Minnesota.

Dontas early made himself known to Ancel Keys, and, along with Christ Aravanis, invited Keys to explore the “population laboratory” of the Greek Islands, where the diet was known to be relatively high in fat (mainly olive oil) and the people rumored to have good health. A pilot study on Crete in 1957 led to the inclusion of Crete and Corfu in the Seven Countries Study and to eventual unique findings of little coronary disease and great longevity in the islands, at least during the first decades of follow-up.

Dontas has made particular contributions to the study of renal and pulmonary function and aging and is an international leader in gerontology. He is also a medical scholar, a historian of the arts, and a perfectionist administrator. He continues actively writing in retirement in Athens. (HB)


Henry Blackburn

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