Dr. Mohammad Gharib was born in Tehran, Iran, on July 5, 1909.
After completing high school in 1927, he went to Reims, France, where he studied at École de Médecine de Reims for 2 years and then enrolled at the Paris University Medical School. An honor student at the medical school, he passed the difficult examinations for an externship and later those for the coveted and highly competitive interne des hôpitaux de Paris. He received an M.D. degree in 1937 and, after one year of training in pediatrics with Professor Ribadeau-Dumas at Salpêtrière Hospital in Paris, he returned home. On his return to Iran, Gharib was appointed the first professor of pediatrics at Tehran University by Dr. Charles Oberling, a French educator who was dean of the medical school. Subsequently, Gharib became chairman of the pediatrics department, a post he held until his death in 1975. In 1941, he was the author of the first Persian textbook on diseases of children. Throughout his career, he edited or co edited numerous volumes on pediatric problems and progress in Iran, and published many articles in Persian, French, and American medical journals. He also maintained a thriving pediatrics practice that usually focused on problem cases.
During a span of 37 years, Gharib taught the medicine of childhood to thousands of undergraduate and graduate students. Many of his pupils subsequently held important positions in Iranian medical education, including the chairmanship of most of the pediatrics departments in the numerous medical schools in Iran. Because of his endeavors and influence, the field was recognized as a specialty in 1950 and a Pediatrics Specialty Board was created in 1955. In 1960, he and his colleagues founded the Iranian Pediatrics Society, of which he was president until 1974. He was a member of the Advisory Board of the International Pediatrics Association from 1968 to 1974. In 1970, he was instrumental in the planning and building of the 150-bed Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Tehran, and he served as its medical director from 1971 to 1975.
Gharib was respected as an effective, colorful, and extremely popular teacher by his students; recognized as a superb clinician by his colleagues; and regarded as a dedicated physician by his patients. He was an influential figure in modern Iranian medicine and regarded by the medical community as the “Father of Iranian Pediatrics”. In recognition of his impressive achievements, the French government conferred on him the Cross of the Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur (Legion of Honour) in 1954. The American magazine M.D., in a series of articles on prominent physicians worldwide, featured Gharib of Iran in its May 1965 issue. Every year, his colleagues and the Iranian Pediatric Society commemorate him by a weeklong seminar entitled “Doctor Gharib Memorial Pediatric Conference” as a postgraduate course in pediatrics.
In 1972, Gharib underwent surgical treatment and radiotherapy for bladder carcinoma. He died of recurrent cancer in Tehran on Jan. 20, 1975.
Gharib and his wife Zahra had four children: Nahid, Maryam, Hossein, and Mohsen, and ten grandchildren: Niloofar, Parinaz, Fatemeh, Ameneh, Soheyla, Mohammad, Yasaman, Mahmood, Kimya, and Ali. Zahra Gharib died in 2009 and buried in Virginia. Hossein is a famous endocrinologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, Mohsen a practicing radiologist in Washington, D.C., Niloofar an ophthalmologist in Virginia, and Mahmood a physical medicine physician at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.
For his lifetime of service, he was honored on a stamp issued by Iran on Oct. 10, 1991. His personal, professional, and political life, detailed in a 36-part television series entitled “Roozegar Gharib” or “Times of Gharib,” was first shown on Iranian TV in 2007.