Photo: C. Northcott
Barry J. Marshall
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2005
Born: 30 September 1951, Kalgoorlie, Australia
Affiliation at the time of the award: NHMRC Helicobacter pylori Research Laboratory, QEII Medical Centre, Nedlands, Australia, University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia
Prize motivation: "for their discovery of the bacterium Helicobacter pylori and its role in gastritis and peptic ulcer disease."
Prize share: 1/2
Barry Marshall was born in Kalgoorlie, Australia, but spent his childhood from the age of eight in Perth, where he also studied to become a doctor. It was during his employment at the Royal Perth Hospital that he carried out the work with colleague Robin Warren that led to his receiving the Nobel Prize. Barry Marshall has continued his affiliation with the hospital and university in Perth, but is also connected to US universities, including the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. He is married with four children.
Gastric ulcers are a common illness, but their cause was long unknown. It was discovered that the most common cause is bacterial infection. After Robin Warren discovered colonies of bacteria at gastric ulcer sites, he was contacted by his colleague Barry Marshall, who then successfully cultivated the previously unknown bacteria Helicobacter pylori. Robin Warren and Barry Marshall proved in 1982 that patients could only be cured if the bacteria were eliminated. This is now achieved by treatment with antibiotics, and gastric ulcers are no longer a chronic illness.