Transcript of the telephone interview with Dr J. Robin Warren after the announcement of the 2005 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine by science writer Joanna Rose, 3 October 2005.
– Hello. Is this Robin Warren?
– Hello. My name is Joanna Rose. I’m calling from the Nobel Foundation in Stockholm. And we have web information about Nobel Prizes. Have you seen it?
– I haven’t seen it. But I got a phone call about an hour ago, from Stockholm, about it.
– My congratulations to the Prize …
– It’s only just starting to sink in, so …
– Do you think it’ll have any consequences for the future, for you?
– Well I don’t know about the future. [laughter] I think the future … It just depends what happens – I don’t know.
– Well, I hope you will come to Sweden.
– We’d love to come to Sweden.
– I was thinking about … Do you think it means any special responsibilities or any change in the direction of medicine?
– That’s what we did actually … I mean nobody believed that there were bacteria in the stomach until I saw them there. And then it took a long time to convince everybody that they were there. It took about fifteen years before it started appearing in the textbooks.
– I understand. How did that feel – that nobody believed you?
– You know, I didn’t really mind all that much; it was a bit annoying. But I kept on with my work because I knew I was right, because I’d seen them there, you see? The trouble was, I could see them, but other people – unless I showed them to them – they couldn’t see them, you see.
– How could you present your research?
– It’s easy enough to see when you … The thing is that medical … Medicine, before I saw them, was, going by the standard methods of teaching: nothing grew in the stomach – when you swallowed bacteria it was sterilised in the stomach, so it didn’t get through the intestines. Nothing grew in the stomach. And that was something that has been taught to the students for a hundred years.
– And how did you realise that it wasn’t true?
– Well, I saw the bacteria there. That’s all. And once I’d seen them, they were easy to find.
– Did you swallow them?
– No. I didn’t do that – Barry did. Barry swallowed them.
– Barry did it?
– Yes. I was sort of infected so I couldn’t do it. But Barry, he swallowed them to see what happened, and got very bad gastritis.
– So, he was the study object?
– Well actually, he was one out of the team then, so he did it. And now he’s still working. I’m retired now.
– I think … Is he with you there?
– He’s right here. Just a second. If you want to …
– It would be nice to meet you here in Stockholm in December.
– All right. I’ll pass you over in a minute; he’s on the phone now.
– Hello. Barry Marshall here …
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