The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology (AJOG) began a series of articles featuring “giants” within the discipline in 2016, with the aim to recognize individuals who have changed the practice of medicine and to learn about their journeys of discovery, inspiration, and challenge. According to the article published on October 1, 2022, Dr. Zoltán Papp is a pioneer in the fields of obstetrics and gynecology and of human genetics. „Regarded as larger-than-life among his peers, he is a physician polymath equally at home reviewing karyotypes and fetal ultrasound images as performing nervesparing radical hysterectomies for cervical cancer,” they wrote.
Ahead of his time, Dr. Papp introduced routine ultrasound examination of low-risk patients to screen for congenital anomalies in the early 1980s. Over a three-year span, his team screened 63,000 pregnant women and concluded that the combination of ultrasound and maternal serum alpha-fetoprotein could detect 63% of major anatomic anomalies with 100% specificity. „This successful detection of anomalies with ultrasound had an important effect on the organization of prenatal care in Hungary,” stressed the journal.
He also described a unique genetic syndrome bearing his name – the Váradi-Papp syndrome. This autosomalrecessive disorder can be diagnosed with ultrasound in the midtrimester, as reported by Dr. Papp and his wife Dr. Valéria Váradi, who is a pediatrician and neonatologist with advanced training in anesthesiology.
After serving many years at Semmelweis University, Dr. Zoltán Papp stepped down at the age of 65 to establish the Maternity Private Clinic of Obstetrics and Gynecology in Budapest. He is currently the Editor-in-Chief of the renowned Hungarian Medical Weekly (Orvosi Hetilap). According to AJOG, since he was appointed to the position in 2016, not only did he increase the visibility of the journal (print and online), but enhanced its impact factor as well.
After training generations of gynecologic surgeons in Hungary, Dr. Zoltán Papp stepped aside from surgical activities in February of this year at the age of 80. Of his numerous awards and honors, AJOG highlighted his acceptance of the Liley Medal, the Roberto Caldeyro-Barcia Lifetime Achievement Award, and his membership on the International Advisory Board of the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology – yet a better indicator of his influence may be his Hirsch index of 46 and the number of citations of his scientific work, exceeding 13,000.
Given the publication of more than 40 books, he has a profound impact in teaching as well. To recognize Dr. Papp’s contributions for his 80th birthday, Semmelweis University bestowed its highest honor, the Pro Universitate Award, and commissioned a portrait that now appears with the portraits of Semmelweis and his successors.
Recently, he published his autobiography, dedicated to his family. In the opening pages, Dr. Papp said that he has lived by the words of the Hungarian poet, Dezső Keresztury, which aptly sum up his philosophy: „I am not better than others, I just do my job.”
Upon hearing the news of the acknowledgement, Dr. Zoltán Papp told our website: „For an obstetrician, there is no greater recognition than to be honoured by the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology (AJOG), the world’s leading journal in the discipline, with such an honour.”
Photo: Dr. Zoltán Papp, Attila Kovács – Semmelweis University