October 4, 2005
There is a recent Nobel prize winner who's research has overthrown century-old medical teachings has some local roots.
Dr. Barry J. Marshall, Professor of Research in the School of Medicine at UVa has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
Marshall's work has been described as revolutionary, shocking many in his field. But for those who know him best, the award came as no surprise.
"Actually we expected him to win the Nobel Prize for several years," says Dr. Robert Carey.
In the early 1980s Marshal and his partner, Dr. Robin Warren discovered a connection between a common bacterium and peptic ulcers and gastric cancers.
From 1986 to 1996 Marshall spent time at UVa developing diagnostic tests needed to implement his discovery.
"It's resulted in a major improvement of the human condition, a major improvement in health," explained Carey.
Dr. Robert Carey, Dean of the School of Medicine in 1986, remembers recruiting Dr. Marshall and describes him as a determined individual who thinks outside the box.
"At the time he made the discovery...in 1981, no one thought that the stomach could possibly contain bacteria. The reason being that the acid environment, it was thought, would be too strong to support bacterial growth."
Marshall stuck to his guns, and it paid off. Now people like Dr. Carey hope Marshall's perseverance will inspire others.
"Anyone with a good idea should pursue it up to the hilt and try to get the most out of the work and if the evidence is there, keep going."
Dr. Marshall has since returned to Australia, but remains on UVa's School of Medicine faculty as a professor of research and internal medicine. The Nobel Prize for medicine has been awarded annually since 1895.