Barry Marshall

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Barry James Marshall, AC FRS FAA (born 30 September 1951) is an Australian physician, Nobel Prize laureate in Physiology or Medicine, and Professor of Clinical Microbiology at the University of Western Australia. Marshall is well-known for proving that bacteria Helicobacter pylori are the cause of most stomach ulcers, reversing decades of medical doctrine which held that ulcers were caused by stress, spicy foods, and too much acid. He has recently accepted a part-time appointment at the Pennsylvania State University.[1]

Early years

Marshall was born in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia and lived in Kalgoorlie and Carnarvon until moving to Perth at seven. He attended High School at Newman College and the University of Western Australia, where he received a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery in 1975. He married his wife Adrienne in 1972.[2][3]

Life and research

In 1979 Marshall was appointed as a Registrar in Medicine at the Royal Perth Hospital. He met Robin Warren, a pathologist interested in gastritis, during internal medicine fellowship training at Royal Perth Hospital in 1981. Together, the pair studied the presence of spiral bacteria in association with gastritis. The following year (1982), they performed the initial culture of H. pylori and developed their hypothesis related to the bacterial cause of peptic ulcer and gastric cancer.[2] It has been claimed that the H. pylori theory was ridiculed by the establishment scientists and doctors, who did not believe that any bacteria could live in the acidic stomach. Marshall has been quoted as saying in 1998 that "Everyone was against me, but I knew I was right".[4] On the other hand, it has also been argued that medical researchers showed a proper degree of skepticism until the H. pylori hypothesis could be proved.[5]

After failed attempts to infect piglets in 1984, Marshall drank a petri-dish of the bacteria and soon developed gastritis with achlorhydria. Symptoms included vague stomach discomfort, nausea, vomiting and halitosis. On the 14th day of the infection, biopsies of Marshall's stomach did not reveal any bacteria - so spontaneous eradication may have occurred. However, on the insistence of his wife, he did take antibiotics immediately after that endoscopy so there was no way of double-checking the negative result. Interestingly, he did not develop antibodies to H.pylori, suggesting that innate immunity can sometimes eradicate acute H.pylori infection. His illness and recovery, based on a culture of organisms extracted from a patient, fulfilled Koch's postulates for H. pylori and gastritis, but not for peptic ulcer. This experiment was published in 1985 in the Medical Journal of Australia[6] and is among the most cited articles from the journal.[7]

After this work at Fremantle Hospital, Marshall did research at Royal Perth Hospital (1985-86) and at the University of Virginia, USA (1986-1996), before returning to Australia. He held a Burnet Fellowship at the University of Western Australia from 1998-2003[8] and continues research related to H. pylori and runs the H.pylori Research Laboratory at UWA.[9]

Awards and honours

In 2005, the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine to Dr. Marshall and his long-time collaborator Dr. Warren "for their discovery of the bacterium Helicobacter pylori and its role in gastritis and peptic ulcer disease".[10]

Marshall also received the Warren Alpert Prize in 1994, the Australian Medical Association Award in 1995, Albert Lasker Award for Clinical Medical Research in 1995 and the Gairdner Foundation International Award in 1996, the Paul Ehrlich Prize in 1997, the Dr A.H. Heineken Prize for Medicine in 1998, the Florey Medal in 1998, the Buchanan Medal of the Royal Society in 1998, Benjamin Franklin Medal for Life Sciences in 1999, the Keio Medical Science Prize in 2002 and the Australian Centenary Medal in 2003.[11]

He was made a Companion of the Order of Australia in 2007.[12]

See also


  1. "Nobel laureate Marshall joins Penn State faculty". Penn State Live. 2007-09-06. Retrieved 2007-09-06. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Barry, Marshall (2005). "Autobiography". Nobel Foundation. Retrieved 2007-01-28. 
  3. In 1972 he was also a state yo-yo champion.
  4. "Barry Marshall Interview, H. Pylori and the Making of a Myth". Academy of Achievement. May 23 1998. Retrieved 2007-01-28. 
  5. Atwood, Kimball C. (November 2004). "Bacteria, Ulcers, and Ostracism?". Skeptical Inquirer. Retrieved 2007-07-17. 
  6. Medical Journal of Australia
  7. Van Der Weyden, Martin B (2005). "The 2005 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine". Medical Journal of Australia. Medical Journal of Australia. 183 (11/12): 612–614. Retrieved 2007-01-28. 
  8. "Professor Barry Marshall". University of Western Australia. 28 July 2006. Retrieved 2007-01-28. 
  9. Marshall, Barry (August 26 2002). "Helicobacter pylori Research Laboratory". University of Western Australia. Retrieved 2007-01-28.  His home page and various links can also be found there.
  10. "The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2005". Nobel Foundation. 2005. Retrieved 2007-01-28. 
  11. "Curriculum Vitae". Nobel Foundation. 2005. Retrieved 2007-01-28. 
  12. "It's an Honour". Government of Australia. 26 January 2007. Retrieved 2007-01-28. 


  • Marshall BJ. Unidentified curved bacillus on gastric epithelium in active chronic gastritis. Lancet 1983;1((8336):1273-1275. PMID 6134060.
  • Marshall BJ, Warren JR. Unidentified curved bacilli in the stomach patients with gastritis and peptic ulceration. Lancet 1984;1(8390):1311-1315. PMID 6145023.
  • Sweet, Melissa (August 2 1997). "Smug as a bug". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2007-01-28. 

External links

NAME Marshall, Barry
SHORT DESCRIPTION Nobel Prize winner, and Professor of Clinical Microbiology
DATE OF BIRTH 30 September 1951
PLACE OF BIRTH Kalgoorlie, Western Australia

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