Marshall in 2008
|Born||Barry James Marshall
30 September 1951 
Kalgoorlie, Western Australia
University of Western Australia
|Alma mater||University of Western Australia (MB BS)|
|Known for||Helicobacter pylori|
Lasker Award (1995)
|Spouse||Adrienne Joyce Feldman (m. 1972)|
|Children||1 son, 3 daughters|
In medical school, it's quite possible to get taught that you can diagnose everybody and treat everything. But then you get out in the real world and find that for most patients walking through your door, you have no idea what's causing their symptoms.
The politics have always been difficult in medicine. There is some truth in the way medical practice is portrayed in TV dramas.
Everything that's supposedly caused by stress, I tell people there's a Nobel Prize there if you find out the real cause.
You can always find stress in someone's life if you want to. You ask a few questions, and eventually, it's, 'Yes, I admit, I was worried about something recently.'
In high school I had B's and C's, not too many A's, but I must have done well on that medical school test, and I must have had some charisma in the interview, so I ended up in medicine. Being a general practitioner was all I aspired to.
My mother was a nurse, and in her era, most diseases weren't understood; people put mustard plasters on knees and rubbed camphor on your chest if you had a cough and did funny things to you if you had tuberculosis – all these things that really made very little difference once proper treatments were brought in.
I was hoping I was going to get an ulcer. I was hoping to boost my research career by developing a bleeding ulcer.
I was born in 1951 in Kalgoorlie, a prosperous mining town 370 miles east of Perth, Western Australia. Kalgoorlie was a gold rush town which sprang up in the desert after the Irishman Paddy Hannan struck gold there in 1892.
My favourite book as a child was an old 'Newne's Children's Encyclopaedia' which my grandfather had bought just before World War II and donated to our family after seeing how interested we were in it. Each volume had special chapters called 'Things Boys can Do.' My brothers and I would pick out interesting projects.
The 20th-century ulcer epidemic was a sign of good health in American people – good diet, strong acidity and healthy immune response actually make ulcers more likely. That's why businessmen eating giant T-bone steaks were prone to ulcers.
If humans evolved in a tiny area of Africa, they only saw plants and animals within a 100-kilometre radius for a million years. When they began to migrate, there would have been different animals and plants – and potentially a lot of allergy issues.
Dad always explained the car engine when he repaired it, and he had many technical books, so I was making electromagnets by age eight as well as reading my mother's medical and nursing books. I suspect I was born with a boundless curiosity, and this was encouraged through my childhood.
Before the 20th century, the ulcer was not a respectable disease. Doctors would say, 'You're under a lot of stress.' Nineteenth-century Europe and America had all these crazy health spas and quack treatments.
If you say you are the Safe Food Foundation, that means you're implying that your food is safer or that every other bit of food that we're eating is not safe. If they were a really honest foundation, they would call themselves the anti-GM foundation.
Peptic ulcers became more common in the 20th century at the same time that these theories of Freud and other psychoanalysts became popular. And somehow those meshed, and this tradition emerged that ulcers were caused by stress or turmoil in one's life.
It was so frustrating to see ulcer patients having surgery, or even dying, when I knew a simple antibiotic treatment could fix the problem.
I am told by others that I have a lateral-thinking, broad approach to problems, sometimes to my detriment. In school, my grades always suffered because I was continually mucking about with irrelevant side issues, which I often found to be more interesting.
There is no other prize in any country that carries the prestige that a Nobel bestows.
To gastroenterologists, the concept of a germ causing ulcers was like saying that the Earth is flat.