Barry Marshall is a Nobel Prize-winning physician whose discovery of the bacterium responsible for peptic ulcers represented a major disruption to the established medical consensus. By demonstrating that ulcers were an infectious condition rather than a result of patient behaviour, he has greatly improved diagnostic techniques and paved the way for efficient treatment.
The bacterium Helicobacter pylori was already known to exist in the stomachs of patients with ulcers, although the direct connection had not yet been ascertained. Barry verified the hypothesis by self-administering the bacteria in question and curing his subsequent gastritis with a course of antibiotics. This proved a revolutionary step in the management of conditions such as ulcers, whose unsuccessful treatments had previously included lifelong medication and even surgery.
Barry has been widely recognised for his work in this field, receiving the Albert Lasker Award for Clinical Science in 1995. In 2005, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, and in 2007 was named a Companion of the Order of Australia — the country’s highest civic honour.
In recognition of his work on discovering the role of Helicobacter pylori as a cause of diseases such as duodenal ulcer, gastric ulcer, gastric cancer and gastritis-associated dyspepsia.
Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
Jointly with J. Robin Warren for their discovery of the bacterium Helicobacter pylori and its role in gastritis and peptic ulcer disease.