William C. Campbell
Born: 28 June 1930, Ramelton, Ireland
Affiliation at the time of the award: Drew University, Madison, NJ, USA
Prize motivation: "for their discoveries concerning a novel therapy against infections caused by roundworm parasites"
Prize share: 1/4
William C. Campbell was born in Ramelton, Ireland. He studied at Trinity College at the University of Dublin and at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA, where he earned his doctorate in 1957. He then worked for the pharmaceutical company Merck at its Institute for Therapeutic Research until 1990. He is now affiliated with Drew University, Madison, New Jersey in USA.
A number of serious infectious diseases are caused by parasites spread by insects. River blindness is caused by a tiny worm that can infect the cornea and cause blindness. Lymphatic filariasis, or elephantiasis, is also caused by a worm and produces chronic swelling. Satoshi Omura cultured bacteria, which produce substances that inhibit the growth of other microorganisms. In 1978 he succeeded in culturing a strain from which William Campbell purified a substance, avermectin, which in a chemically modified form, ivermectin, proved effective against river blindness and elephantiasis.