MOBILE – The main hallway of The Center for Reproductive Medicine in Mobile is lined with photos of smiling babies. The large collages are softly lit by recessed lighting in the ceiling above each frame, and as you walk down the hallway, it’s impossible not to smile at what the physicians and staff affectionately refer to as “our angels.”
This is a place filled with dreams, hope and love, and that’s just how founder and medical director George Koulianos, M.D., likes it. With his easy smile and affable demeanor, he lights up a room whenever he walks in. This is a man whose professional accomplishments in the field of reproductive medicine have made The Center for Reproductive Medicine one of the most successful medical practices of its kind in the country.
The son of an immigrant family, Dr. Koulianos is no stranger to hard work. His father barely escaped the Greek Islands for America during World War II following 52 days and nights of constant bombings by German forces.
“I grew up working with my hands. I grew up pumping gas and fixing cars. My father wanted to make sure I hated it so much that I would study hard to make a life for myself. There’s no way I could ever begin to thank my father for the lessons that he taught me about life,” Dr. Koulianos said.
His father passed away when he was in medical school, but he would certainly be proud of his son. Dr. Koulianos isn’t just a successful physician. A few years ago he embarked on a new venture that began as a bit of a hobby for him and a summer job for his son and daughter. Little did he know just how successful or how much fun he would have being a farmer.
“I love it!” Dr. Koulianos exclaimed. “It’s amazing how many people don’t know where their food comes from. I think it’s, there’s something very spiritual about the whole thing. When you look at that little tomato seedling and think what in the world is this? Then it turns into this beautiful plant that brings forth this wonderful fruit. For me, it’s like how can you not believe in God after you see that and if you live that for a growing season. So I think it’s kind of a miracle personally.”
With more grocery stores and restaurants participating in Buy Local campaigns, small organic farms such as Dr. Koulianos’ are becoming more popular on a much larger scale, plus it means more to residents to know that their produce was grown within just a few miles of their community.
“We’ve had more people approach us about putting our products on their shelves and on their menus…at times it’s been more than we can. We’ve grown so much from what began as land for Dove hunting and hay to now supplying two of the best chefs in Mobile County and new customers in Baldwin County with our produce,” Dr. Koulianos explained.
As much fun as he was having farming with his son and daughter, Dr. Koulianos realized his little patch of heaven had a different purpose. He was already using it as a way to teach his children responsibility and life lessons about their future, but this lesson was more for him.
“I began to realize I was promoting health through nutrition…and isn’t that what a doctor is supposed to do?” Dr. Koulianos questioned. “There was major research beginning to come out about endocrine disruptors and reproduction. These endocrine disruptors that are in synthetic pesticides are really bad for us. So as the farm progressed, the literature got even stronger about the negative effects of endocrine disruptors for a whole slew of areas in health, not just reproduction, but diabetes, heart disease, and on and on. The European Union calculated the cost of endocrine disruptors on the health system in the billions of dollars. Wow! It’s become a way for me as a physician to interact with my patients in a different way. As people get more food conscious and realize what they put into their bodies, it determines what happens to their bodies. I can tell you we’ve had patients who have come to us from other fertility clinics who’ve done IVF and had terrible outcomes. We’ve told them before that if we do your IVF, this is what you’re going to do – you’re going to drop 10 or 20 pounds, you’re going to change the way you eat, you’re going to get all these carbs out of your diet, you’re going to eat these types of foods, you’re going to take certain supplements that help with fertility, you’re going to take the supplements, and then three months from now we’re going to do your IVF cycle. Nutrition really makes a difference, and they make beautiful embryos! Our patients have gotten pregnant in our program where they couldn’t get pregnant elsewhere.”
What began as a small hobby then a family tradition of passing on life lessons from father to son and finally an extension of his chosen profession, Dr. Koulianos said working his land gives him a sense of peace and is a profound experience that’s “good for the soul.” While his son and daughter have moved on, the farm continues to prosper in more ways than one.
“I think one of the great lessons we need to teach our young doctors is that you really are practicing something very special. Medicine might be science, it might be curative, but ultimately, more than anything else, it has to be healing. I really believe in the calling of medicine and in its own way, it’s its own unique ministry. My medical license is very special to me. It means I have a moral obligation to put the needs of the citizens of this state before mine. That’s what a license to practice medicine means. So a farm fits beautifully with the practice of medicine because I’m helping my patients in a different way,” Dr. Koulianos said.