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Summary Article: Marshall, Barry J
from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Australian physician and microbiologist, who with Australian pathologist J Robin Warren shared the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 2005 for the discovery of the Helicobacter pylori bacterium and the determination of its role in gastritis and peptic ulcer disease. Their work demonstrated that the majority of stomach ulcers could be cured by treatment with antibiotics.

The established scientific opinion up to 1980 was that stomach ulcers were caused by stress and lifestyle factors and were effectively incurable. The only available treatment for a sufferer was to take one of a range of drugs that had been developed to combat the symptoms of ulcers mainly by controlling the acidity in the stomach. Marshall became interested in Warren's study of curved bacteria found to colonize the lower stomach area in 50% of patients admitted with stomach ulcers. Marshall was able to grow this species of bacteria, named Helicobacter pylori, under laboratory conditions, and he and Warren were able to show that it was almost always present in the stomachs of patients suffering from gastric ulcers, gastric inflammation, or duodenal ulcers.

Marshall's and Warren's research was considered highly controversial as they claimed to be able to cure the majority of stomach ulcers with a course of antibiotics, challenging the established view that such ulcers were incurable. Marshall proved the efficacy of this treatment by deliberately infecting himself with Helicobacter pylori, developing gastric inflammation, and then curing himself using antibiotics. This discovery provided a simple and effective cure for the majority of stomach ulcer sufferers.

Marshall was born in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia. He was awarded his MB BS medical degree by the University of Western Australia, Perth, in 1974. Hall worked as a registrar at the Royal Perth Hospital from 1977 to 1984, after which his career became more oriented towards research. From 1986 to 1994, he held the positions of research fellow and professor of medicine at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, before returning to Australia to become clinical professor of medicine at the University of Western Australia. In 1999 he became clinical professor of microbiology at the same institution. He also holds the position of senior principal research fellow at the NHMRC Helicobacter pylori Research Laboratory, QEII Medical Centre at the University of Western Australia.

© RM, 2018. All rights reserved.

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