Academic journal article The Middle East Journal

Ihsan Dogramaci: A Remarkable Turk

Academic journal article The Middle East Journal

Ihsan Dogramaci: A Remarkable Turk

Article excerpt

Ihsan Dogramaci: A Remarkable Turk, by Sir Horace Phillips. Bishop Wilton, York, England: Wilton 65, 1997. xiv + 106 pages. Index to p. 108. 12.

Reviewed by Howard A. Reed

This brief biography of Turkey's best known physician, educator and leading philanthropist introduces English-speaking readers to this outstanding world citizen. Based on extended interviews with Ihsan Dogramaci, supplemented by 20 years of acquaintance, it also draws on two earlier biographies in Turkish by former medical colleagues Professors Celal Ertug and Sinasi Ozsoylu.'

The author, a former soldier and diplomat as well as British Ambassador to Turkey, was also a successful business executive turned lecturer in international relations. Sir Horace Phillips highlights Dogramaci's career in 20 short chapters. The discussion extends from Dogramaci's birth, in then Ottoman Iraq's citadel of Erbil, to his current posts as honorary chairman for life of the International Pediatric Association (which he headed from 1968-92), Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Bilkent University, and chairman of the major foundations established by the Dogramacis, notably those set up to fund Hacettepe and Bilkent Universities, which Ihsan Dogramaci founded in 1967 and 1984 respectively.

Dogramaci was born into an affluent Ottoman Turkish landowning family in 1915. His father, `Ali Dogramaci Pasha, was mayor of Erbil. `Ali Pasha later represented his Turkmen constituency in the Iraqi Senate under the British mandate in Baghdad. Ihsan's mother, Ismet, was the daugther of Mehmet `Ali Kirdar, then Ottoman member of parliament from Kirkuk. Her maternal grandfather, Field Marshall Dagistanli Mehmet Fazil Pasha, died in 1916 as commander of an Ottoman regiment defending Kut al-Amara from British attack. Ihsan's education ranged from primary school in Turkish in Erbil, where he also learned Arabic, completion of five years of high school in two years and graduation with honors from the International College of Beirut, through his M.D. in Istanbul, to post-graduate specialization in pediatrics as a fellow both at Harvard University and Washington University, St. Louis. As a fellow, he collaborated with C.F. Cori and his wife Gerti, joint 1947 Nobel Laureates in Physiology and Medicine. In 1942 he married Ayser Suleyman, a graduate of the American Girls' School and scion of a prominent Turkish family in Baghdad. Her father Hikmet served as prime minister of Iraq (1936-37). Her uncle, Mahmut ,Sevket Pasha, a mentor of Mustafa Kemal (Atatrk) in 1909, had been assassinated in 1913 while Ottoman Grand Vizier. The Dogramacis have a daughter and two sons. Ayser has been a gracious partner and inspiration to Ihsan throughout his multifaceted career.

Dogramaci's devotion to the improvement of health education and child care was stimulated by his youthful admiration of Ataturk, respect for his teachers at the International College, and his mentors at Ankara, Harvard and Washington Universities. Soon after earning his M.D. at Istanbul University, he met pediatricians Albert and Erna Eckstein, Jewish, refugee scholars at Ankara University, in 1938, during their study of rural child health in western Anatolia. …

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