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Robin Warren is our fifth Nobel Laureate

Tuesday, 4 October 2005

The University of Adelaide's list of Nobel Laureates has been increased to five following the awarding overnight of the Nobel Prize for Medicine to Dr J Robin Warren.

Born in Adelaide in 1937, Dr Warren graduated MB BS from the University of Adelaide in 1961. After training at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, he was admitted to the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia in 1967. Since then, he has been a senior pathologist at the Royal Perth Hospital (RPH) in Western Australia.

Dr Warren, who will share the prize with Barry Marshall "for their discovery of the bacterium Helicobacter pylori and its role in gastritis and peptic ulcer disease," becomes the fifth person directly associated with the University of Adelaide to win a Nobel Prize. In 1996, he won the University of Adelaide's Distinguished Alumni Award.

Former staff member Sir William Henry Bragg and his son Sir William Lawrence Bragg, a University of Adelaide graduate, were awarded a Nobel Prize in 1915 for their pioneering work with X-rays.

Medicine graduate Lord Howard Florey received his Nobel Prize in 1945 for his work in developing penicillin.

And in 2003, one of the biggest literature prizes in the world - the Nobel Prize for Literature - was awarded to Dr JM Coetzee, an Honorary Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Adelaide's English department.

University of Adelaide Vice-Chancellor Professor James McWha congratulated Dr Warren on this exceptional achievement.

"I congratulate Dr Warren for being awarded the Nobel Prize in recognition of his contribution to medicine," Professor McWha says. "It is always a proud moment when a graduate excels, especially on the world stage."

"I am sure everyone at the university will be as thrilled as I am at Dr Warren's achievement," Professor McWha said.

In 1979, Dr Warren first observed the presence of small curved bacteria on a biopsy of the gastric mucosa. Follow-up during the next two years showed that the bacteria were frequently present only on gastric-type epithelium, and were closely linked to a specific variety of gastritis.

In 1981, Dr Warren met Barry Marshall, registrar in the gastroenterology department at the RPH, and a fruitful partnership followed which demonstrated the clinical significance of the bacteria. They cultured the bacteria, identified as a new species and now called Helicobacter pylori.

They demonstrated the association of H. pylori and peptic ulcers, particularly duodenal ulcers. Eradication of the bacteria resulted in healing of the gastritis and the ulcers rarely recurred.

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