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Barry J. Marshall

AKA Barry James Marshall

Born: 30-Sep-1951
Birthplace: Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, Australia

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Doctor, Scientist

Nationality: Australia
Executive summary: H. pylori bacteria causes ulcers

For decades, medical students were taught that chronic stomach ailments, including peptic ulcers and gastritis, were caused by stress, greasy food, or too much alcohol. Barry J. Marshall, an Australian physician, suspected that stomach ulcers are caused instead by a bacteria, Helicobacter pylori. His breakthrough came painfully in 1984, when, frustrated by failed efforts to infect lab animals with the H. pylori, he drank a few ounces of liquid containing the bacteria -- and promptly developed gastritis.

His work was not received enthusiastically. In Marshall's words, "When I was criticized by gastroenterologists, I knew that they were mostly making their living doing endoscopies on ulcer patients. So I'm going to show you guys. A few years from now you'll be saying, 'Hey! Where did all those endoscopies go to?' And it will be because I was treating ulcers with antibiotics." Many stomach ailments can now be cured permanently with a short prescription of antibiotics, and Marshall later developed an enzyme-based breath test for the presence of the bacterium. Marshall was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2005, sharing the honor with his longtime collaborator, J. Robin Warren.

More recently, an interview with Marshall has been included in TV infomercials promoting World’s Greatest Treasury of Health Secrets, a book of 'alternative' medical advice that includes an article on H. pylori. Marshall has stated that the nature of the book was not clear to him as edited the article, and that the brief, rather rushed interview was conducted amid the hubbub after he won his Nobel Prize. On his weblog, he has apologized to people who bought the book, but reassured readers that the book's article on H. pylori is factually accurate.

Father: Robert Marshall (pipefitter, b. 1932)
Brother: William Marshall
Brother: Andrew Marshall (b. 1958)
Sister: Marie Marshall
Wife: Adrienne Marshall (psychologist, m. 1972)
Son: Luke (b. 1973)
Daughter: Bronwyn (b. 1975)
Daughter: Caroline (b. 1978)
Daughter: Jessica (b. 1981)

    High School: Newman College, Churchlands, Australia
    Medical School: M.B., B.S. Medicine-Surgery, University of Western Australia (1975)
    Professor: Medicine, University of Virginia (1986-94)
    Professor: Internal Medicine, University of Virginia (1996)
    Professor: Medicine, University of Western Australia (1997-99)
    Professor: Microbiology, University of Western Australia (1999-)

    Lasker Award 1995
    Benjamin Franklin Medal 1999
    Nobel Prize for Medicine 2005 (with J. Robin Warren)

Official Website:

Author of books:
Helicobacter pylori (2000)
Helicobacter Pylori in Peptic Ulceration and Gastriti (2001)
Helicobacter Pioneers (2002)

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