İhsan Doğramacı devoted his life of hundred years to children,youth and all humanity. İhsan Doğramacı, who had greatly struggled against the obstacles he encountered due to his commitment to serving, will always be remembered for his services and contributions as well as healthcare, education and science institutions he created not only in Turkey but also in many countries of the world.
Professor İhsan Doğramacı was born in 1915 in Erbil, northern Iraq, which was then a part of the Ottoman Empire. He was born as the son of an influential Turkmen family; his father was Doğramacızade Ali Paşa, the Mayor of Erbil.His mother, İsmet Hanım, was the daughter of Kırdarzade Mehmet Ali Bey, who had long served as the Kerkük representative at the Ottoman Parliamentary Assembly.
After his education in a Turkish primary school in Erbil, Doğramacı graduated from the Beirut American College and İstanbul University’s Faculty of Medicine.He became a pediatrician in Ankara under the supervision of Professor Albert Eckstein and worked as a research assistant at Harvard University and at Washington University in St. Louis.
Intellectual foundations of Bilkent University
In 1947, Doğramacı settled in Ankara with his family. He had already started making plans to establish non-profit, private higher education institutions in Turkey, similar to those he had the chance to observe in the US.
At the Ankara University’s Faculty of Medicine, the young pediatrician rapidly climbed high into academic and professional echelons and became a professor of pediatrics in 1955. The same year, he established the Children’s Health Institute under the roof of Ankara University in an impoverished neighborhood of Ankara. Later, he started to work toward the establishment of Hacettepe Institute for Medicine and Health Sciences as a second faculty of medicine under the roof of the same university, as well as the Junior College for Dentistry. Later, he started to work toward the establishment of Hacettepe Institute for Medicine and Health Sciences as a second faculty of medicine under the roof of the same university, as well as the Junior College for Dentistry.
Doğramacı served as Rector of the Ankara University between 1963 and 1967 and then as Chairman of Board of Trustees at the Middle Eastern Technical University.
A new university: Hacettepe
In 1967, Doğramacı united the Hacettepe Faculty of Medicine and the junior colleges under the Children’s Health Institute to create a new university: Hacettepe University. Until 1975, he served as the rector of this university which has a very important place in the Turkish higher education today. After the termination of his term, he accepted a position as a professor of pediatrics at Descartes University in Paris.
In 1980, he was invited to Turkey to advice on drafting of a new law to regulate the higher education system in Turkey. Among his suggestions to reform the higher education system was the establishment of a Council of Higher Education (YÖK) reporting directly to the President of the Republic. He was appointed the first president of this council at the end of 1981 and continued to serve in this position until 1992.
After the reform, significant progress was made in Turkey's higher education system. In 1980, only 6.3% of school aged population was enrolled in a higher education. Back then, this rate attained 32% in Western Europe, 14% in neighboring Syria and 22% in Greece and Bulgaria. In the past 25 years, this rate has reached 38.2%. In terms of the number of articles published in scientific journals, Turkey went up from 45th to 18th place in the international research ranking.
While leading the evolution of higher education in Turkey, Doğramacı also attached great importance to the education of the two universal languages, i.e. music and art.
The Constitution of 1982 regulated the establishment of non-profit, private higher education institutions by foundations. In 1984, Doğramacı established Bilkent University, the first foundation university of Turkey, and became the Chairman of Board of Trustees.
Doğramacı is the founder of five Turkish foundations, which established numerous hospitals and education institutions, including Bilkent. Aside from these, İhsan Doğramacı Family Health Foundation, established to assist the World Health Organization and since 1983 has been rewarding successful individuals who work in the field of family health
İhsan Doğramacı had the chance to participate in the establishment of the World Health Organization and in the preparation of its charter in 1946, when he was just 31 years old. After his return to Turkey, the World Health Organization asked him to provide consultation for the establishment of new schools of medicine and health sciences in various regions of the world. Doğramacı personally pioneered in the establishment of the Sherbrooke University in Quebec, Canada; Brasilia University in Brazil; as well as centers and schools of medicine in Ife, Nigeria and Yaunde, Cameroon.
Léon Bernard Prize and “Health-for-All” Medal
İhsan Doğramacı presided over the Turkish Delegation at the World Health Assembly for six years. In 1976, he took office as President of the European Region Countries and Vice President of the Assembly. Later, he served as member of its Board and as a member of various advisory councils at the World Health Organization. In 1981, the World Health Organization rewarded Doğramacı the Léon Bernard Foundation Prize and the “Health-for-All” Gold Medal in 1997 in recognition of his outstanding service.
One other institution in which Doğramacı contributed actively was UNICEF, where he served as Board member for many years. He was elected president of the Program Committee twice and served on the Executive Board three times. In 1995, UNICEF honored him with the Maurice Pate Prize. He served as president of the UNICEF National Committee in Turkey from 1958 until 2003 when he was appointed to the honorary presidency of the committee.
In 1968, İhsan Doğramacı was elected president of the International Pediatric Association, an institution active in the field of children’s health. He served as president and general director at this institution for a quarter of a century and in 1992 was appointed honorary president for life.
While serving as the President of the UNICEF Executive Board, Doğramacı became an Advisory Board member of the International Children’s Center in Paris and served from 1970 to 1984. When the center was abolished in 1999 after 50 years in existence, he transferred it to Ankara and personally undertook its presidency until 2006 when he became honorary president.
Doğramacı authored numerous articles, book chapters and books on medicine and health sciences. Books on the life and achievements of İhsan Doğramacı were published in numerous countries, in various languages. Prestigious composers, particularly Adnan Saygun, composed sonatas, symphonic pieces and symphonies in homage to him.İhsan Doğramacı received numerous awards, medals and decorations. 26 universities from 14 countries, including the US, Finland, France, Great Britain, Italy, Japan and Egypt presented him with honorary doctorate degrees.He was a member of national academies of various nations and became an honorary member of 23 pediatric associations across the world. The Council of Europe rewarded him the Peace, Justice and Tolerance Prize in 1998 at a ceremony organized in Vienna.
Presidents of many states, including Azerbaijan, the Dominican Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Iran and Poland, honored Doğramacı honored him with their country’s highest decoration. The Turkish Grand National Assembly, Egyptian Parliament and many other national institutions rewarded Doğramacı with their most prestigious awards and medals.
Hocabey’s lifetime spanning almost a century was full of the desire to serve children, young people and all humanity. He struggled to overcome many challenges in his dedication to achieve his ideals. İhsan Doğramacı will be remembered, not only in Turkey but also in many countries around the world, thanks to his various services and contributions and the health, education and science institutions that he established.
1955 - 1981 Director, Hacettepe Institute of Child Health, Ankara
1963 - Dean, Hacettepe Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Ankara University, Ankara
1963 - 1965 Rector, Ankara University, Ankara
1965 - 1967 Chairman of Board of Trustees, Middle East Technical University, Ankara
1967 - 1975 Rector, Hacettepe University, Ankara
1981 - 1992 President, Council of Higher Education of Turkey
Honorary Doctoral Degrees
University of Glasgow (Scotland)
University of Nice (France)
University of Nebraska (USA)
University of Baghdad (Iraq)
University of Guayaquil (Ecuador)
Autonomous University of Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic)
Ain Shams University (Egypt)
University of Helsinki (Finland)
Soka University (Japan)
Baku State University (Azerbaijan)
Azerbaijan Medical University (Azerbaijan)
De Montfort University (UK)
Eastern Mediterranean University (TRNC)
Jamia Millia Islamia (India)
Sapienza University of Rome (Italy)
Case Western Reserve University (USA)
Eleven universities from Turkey, including Anadolu, Boğaziçi, İstanbul and Marmara
1978 TÜBİTAK Service Award
1981 Léon Bernard Foundation Prize, WHO
1986 Christopherson Award, American Academy of Pediatrics
1995 Maurice Pate Award, UNICEF
1995 Soranos Award for Science and Friendship (Greece)
1998 Council of Europe “Peace, Justice and Tolerance” Prize (The other two laureates were Franz Cardinal König and Simon Wiesenthal.)
1999 Health and Education Award for Merit (Turkey)
2000 Ministry of Foreign Affairs Distinguished Service Award (Turkey)
2004 Dr. Jushichiro Naito International Childcare Award (Japan)
2007 Turkish Grand National Assembly Honor Prize
2009 Lifetime Achievement Award of Excellence in Global Health, World Federation of Public Health Associations
2009 Award of the Islamic Organization for Medical Sciences
State Medal for Outstanding Merit (Turkey)
Order of Haydar Aliyev (Azerbaijan)
First Rank Order of Independence (Azerbaijan)
Order of Homayoun First Class (Iran)
Medal of the Egyptian People's Assembly
State Medal of Merit (Romania)
Gran Cruz Placa de Plata de la Orden Heráldica de Cristóbal Colón (Dominican Republic)
Gran Oficial, Orden del Mérito de Duarte, Sánchez y Mella (Dominican Republic)
First Rank Commander of the Order of the Lion of Finland
First Rank Commander of the Order of Merit of Poland
Order of the Cross of St. Mary's Land (Estonia)
Officier de la Légion d'Honneur (France)
WHO Health-For-All Gold Medal
Sevda Cenap And Music Foundation Honor Award Gold Medal
Medal of Recognition, Iraqi Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research
Medal of the City of Paris