Londonderry man William C. Campbell has been awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine for his work in developing a novel therapy against infections caused by roundworm parasites.
The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet awarded Professor Campbell and Satoshi Ōmura the prize for their work on parasites.
They received it jointly with Youyou Tu for her discoveries concerning a novel therapy against Malaria.
Professor Campbell and Professor Ōmura discovered a new drug, Avermectin, the derivatives of which have radically lowered the incidence of River Blindness and Lymphatic Filariasis, as well as showing efficacy against an expanding number of other parasitic diseases.
The 85-year-old picked up the award in Stockholm on Thursday, December 10.
“Professor Tu, Professor Ōmura and I come from different lands. We speak with different tongues. But we are as one in gratitude,” he said.
“Actually, we have something else in common. All three of us have been connected, one way or another, with the world of parasites. Unfortunately, parasites are not generally regarded as being loveable. When we refer to some people as parasites, we are not being complimentary.
“We think that a parasite is the sort of person who goes through a revolving-door on somebody else’s push. It is so unfair! Unfair to the real parasites – the innumerable and influential real parasites. Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen: it is time for parasites to get a little more respect.
“And it is with much respect that we end, as we began, with our thanks to you. We add that we are grateful also to those who made our work possible, those who made our lives possible, and those who make our lives worth living. To all of you and all of them we say, simply and sincerely, thank you.”
Professor Campbell was born in 1930 in Londonderry and grew up in Ramelton. After receiving a BA from Trinity College in 1952, he received a PhD from the University of Wisconsin in 1957. From 1957-1990 he was with the Merck Institute for Therapeutic Research, from 1984-1990 as Senior Scientist and Director for Assay Research and Development. Campbell is currently a Research Fellow Emeritus at Drew University, Madison, New Jersey, USA.