Stamen Grigorov is the Bulgarian doctor and scientist who discovered Lactobacillus bulgaricus, a type of bacterium used to make yogurt. Grigorov is celebrated in the October 27 Google Doodle.
The doodle celebrates what would have been Grigorov’s 142nd birthday, according to Google’s blog. According to the blog, Grigorov was born in a village named Studen Izvor in the western part of Bulgaria.
Grigorov was born in 1878, shortly after Bulgaria gained independence from the Ottoman Empire, and died in 1945, just before Bulgaria became a satellite state of the Soviet Union.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Grigorov Went on to Work on the Fight Against Tuberculosis
Following his yogurt discovery, Grigorov went on to work as the chief physician at the main hospital in the city of Thun in Bulgaria. In 1906, Grigorov published a paper documenting the use of penicillin fungi against tuberculosis.
A Bulgaria Radio feature on Grigorov said “an odd confluence of events” led to Grigorov not being credited with establishing the tuberculosis vaccine. The vaccine is typically credited to Camille Guerin and Albert Calmette. According to the report, Grigorov did not receive his credit because there was no Bulgarian medical institution with enough power to support his findings.
2. Grigorov’s Hometown of Studen Izvor Is the Home of the World’s Only Museum of Yogurt
Grigorov received his doctorate from the Medical University of Geneva in Switzerland and later worked at the school as a research assistant. In 1905, after receiving a gift of some Bulgarian yogurt from his wife shortly after their marriage, he decided to study the substance due to its reputed health benefits. According to a BBC feature on Bulgarian yogurt, Grigorov used a typical pot from his homeland known as a “rukatka.” Grigorov’s findings led to Bulgarian yogurt becoming very much “in vogue” in the 1920s and ’30s.
It was Grigorov who discovered the microorganism that created the yogurt. The rod-shaped microorganism would go on to be named Lactobacillus bulgaricus in honor of Grigorov’s homeland.
The Museum of Yogurt was set up in his hometown of Studen Izvor in 2007. The museum is a converted 19th century home from the time of Grigorov’s birth and includes documents and information regarding Grigorov’s life. The name of Grigorov’s hometown translates to English as “Cold Spring.”
3. Grigorov Served as a Medical Officer During World War 1
A Not Even Past feature on Grigorov and the history of yogurt detailed that Grigorov served in the Bulgarian army in World War 1. Grigorov was registered as a medical officer.
In the war, Bulgaria fought on the side of Germany, Austro-Hungaria and Turkey. More than 75,000 Bulgarian soldiers were lost in the war.
4. Grigorov Has a Glacier Named His Honor in Antarctica
A glacier in Antarctica known as the Grigorov Glacier is named for the famed Bulgarian doctor. The glacier is 1.1 miles in length and just under 1 mile in width. According to the Australian government’s website, the glacier was named in June 2010. The glacier is located on the Albena Peninsula on Brabant Island in the Palmer Archipelago.
Grigorov is one of more than 300 medical professionals who have glaciers named in their honor in Antarctica.
5. A Link Was Later Discovered Between Bulgarian’s Longevity & Their Consumption of Yogurt
Russian Ilya Mechnikov studied Grigorov’s discoveries and uncovered a link between the amount of yogurt consumed by Bulgarian peasants and the length of their lives, according to Bacillusbulgaricus.com. In a study of 37 countries, Mechnikov discovered that more people lived to be older than 100 in Bulgaria than any other country. Mechnikov found that the proteolytic bacteria that causes aging in the bowel was suppressed by the contents of yogurt.
Since then, yogurt has been linked to the impression of cancer, lower cholesterol and the reduction of unhealthy bacteria.