Nobel Prize Talks: J. Robin Warren
What you see depends on what you look for, and if you really open your eyes, something new may come into view. That was the case for Robin Warren, 2005 Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine, when he recognized bacteria living in the stomach. In this conversation he talks about the long time spent convincing the scientific community, and how, once the importance of the discovery was finally recognized, he got the Nobel Prize call from Stockholm while being served fish and chips in a pub in Perth together with his co-laureate Barry Marshall.
Interview with the 2005 Nobel Laureates in Physiology or Medicine, J. Robin Warren and Barry J. Marshall, by journalist Rupini Bergström, 6 December 2005.
The Laureates talk about their impressions of Sweden during wintertime, their collaboration during the years (1:17), the discovery of the bacteria Helicobacter Pylori (5:02), how the Nobel Prize has affected their lives (9:55), treating H. Pylori in the developing countries (19:47), and what makes a scientist succeed (24:19).
The Nobel Laureates of 2005 met at the Bernadotte Library in Stockholm in December 2005 for the traditional round-table discussion and TV show ‘Nobel Minds’. The programme presenter is Nik Gowing, principal programme anchor for the BBC’s international television news channel BBC World. Among other things the Laureates talk about competition versus co-operation and the need of mentoring in scientific research.
Telephone interview with Dr J. Robin Warren following the announcement of the 2005 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 3 October 2005. The interviewer is science writer Joanna Rose.
– 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 …
Did you find any typos in this text? We would appreciate your assistance in identifying any errors and to let us know. Thank you for taking the time to report the errors by sending us an e-mail.
Their work and discoveries range from the Earth’s climate and our sense of touch to efforts to safeguard freedom of expression.
See them all presented here.