The Tree of Hippocrates in US
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The Tree of Hippocrates in US

The United States National Library of Medicine brought back to life a symbol of one of the brightest minds in medicine. Legend says that twenty four hundred years ago, Hippocrates taught medical students in the shade of a Sycamore tree.

Over fifty years ago, the so-called «Hippocrates Tree» was planted at the National Library of Medicine (NLM) in 1962 when the Greek Ambassador brought a cutting of the celebrated tree from the Greek Island of Cos. In the 1980s, that tree declined because of a fungal disease. Before its demise, researches at NLM took a clipping and found a company to clone it.

The planting of the tree was hailed as a symbol of how far science has advanced since the time of Hippocrates.

«It’s said that twenty four hundred years ago, Hippocrates would sit under the master clone of this tree, back in Cos, and transmit his knowledge of medicine to his students,and I think it’s fitting that this is standing alongside the National Library of Medicine (NLM), because every day thousands of scientists are exchanging, are transmitting their information and their data to the NLM and in turn that’s now available to millions of scientists everyday to access this information,» said Dr. David Lipman, Director, National Center for Biotechnology Information.

Scientist Dr. Constantine Stratakis said the replanting is a living symbol of the father of medicine.

«The event speaks about the preservation of the DNA of a tree that was here planted 50-60 years ago, and that had the DNA of another tree that is on the island of the Cos in Greece and it was planted there presumably 25 centuries ago. So, it’s who we are – life. This is life. I think David Lipman said very nice that what we are seeing here is what DNA is all about, which is all about life.»

Hippocrates was born on the Greek Island of Cos around 460 B.C. He invented the idea that symptoms were consistent between patients with the same disease and that similar conditions produced similar illnesses. Medicine, as a systematic field of study began with him and his followers.