Hot on the heels of the 2016 Nobel Prize announcements in Sweden this week, a new report shows that Western Australia’s first Nobel Prize is still having a big impact a decade later.
WA medical researchers Professor Barry Marshall and Emeritus Professor Robin Warren rewrote medical textbooks and won the 2005 Nobel Prize in Medicine for their life-saving discovery that a tiny bacterium called Helicobacter pylori (H.pylori) causes stomach ulcers and leads to gastric cancer. H.pylori infects half the world’s population.
Professor Marshall’s exploits have been legendary, from the time he drank H.pylori as a self-experiment, to being the first Australian to post his DNA on the Internet.
- But what has happened in the decade since they won the world’s top prize?
- What has been the ripple effect of their efforts?
- How have they used their Nobel Prize, and role as WA’s first Ambassadors for Life Sciences to deliver value for everyday Australians?
The report, Western Australia’s Nobel Laureates Leading the Way is the world’s first long-term study of the social impact of a Nobel Prize. Co-authored by Kris Laurie and Marie Howarth it was launched today at The University of Western Australia.
The report is based on data collected over 10 years by Ms Laurie, Manager of the WA Government-funded Office of the Nobel Laureates which was established to support Professor Marshall and Dr Warren’s work as Western Australia’s first Ambassadors for Life Sciences.
At a time when resources are scarce and communities are looking for proof of a return on investment, the research shows how Professor Marshall and Dr Warren have used their influence to drive change in health, science, education and community development.
UWA Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Johnson said the report was the first study tracing the long-term impact of the Nobel Prize.
“It adds to our understanding of social capital, our insight into the formation of global relationships and our appreciation for the living treasures in our community,” Professor Johnson said.
“Kris Laurie and Marie Howarth make a strong case for why we should increase social investment into science, research and academia to harness Australia's creativity and reshape the national economy.”
It’s been an incredible journey – since 2005 Professor Marshall and Dr Warren have:
- Travelled more than three million kilometres making 489 visits to 148 cities in 37 countries, meeting scientists, school children, rock stars and royalty.
- Attended 4,409 official events – more than one a day every day for 10 years.
- Created a new global biotech industry with Western Australia at its centre.
- Cured more than 91 per cent of antibiotic resistant H.pylori patients in WA – the most challenging cases.
- Used the H.pylori model to investigate antibiotic resistance, which could claim 10 million lives and cost US$100 trillion a year by 2050.
- Established collaborations on almost every continent and in the world’s biggest hospital. There are six projects in China where 500 million people are infected with H. pylori.
- Campaigned to overturn a 30-year-old murder conviction enabling an innocent man to walk free on the strength of their discovery.
A decade after the Nobel Prize, this report demonstrates the impact their influence continues to have in areas of public health, science, education and throughout the community by stimulating community conversations and attitudes.
The Office of Nobel Laureates would like to thank the people of Western Australia through the State Government for the funding support received over the past 10 years.
Jess Reid (UWA Media and PR Adviser) (+61 8) 6488 6876