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Trinity Graduate William Campbell Wins Nobel Prize for Medicine

Posted on 12 October 2015

Professor William Campbell with Provost of Trinity College Dublin, Dr Patrick Prendergast  Graduate of Trinity, Professor William Campbell has been jointly awarded the 2015 Nobel Prize in Medicine.  Professor Campbell and Professor Satoshi Omura last week were jointly awarded the prize for discovering a new drug, avermectin, that has helped to cure river blindness and lymphatic filariasis, as well as showing effectiveness against other parasitic diseases.

Professor Campbell qualified from Trinity with a first class honours Degree in zoology. After completing a Doctorate at the University of Wisconsin, he moved to Merck research laboratories and became involved in the development of the Ivermectin drug which cures river blindness. He became an instrumental influencer behind the pharmaceutical firm’s decision to make the treatment freely available to people.  Approximately 25 million people are treated under this scheme every year.

Professor Campbell was conferred with an Honorary Doctorate in Science by Trinity in 2012 in recognition for his scientific research and contribution to society.
Welcoming the announcement, Dr Patrick Prendergast, the Provost of Trinity College Dublin said “Professor Campbell was centrally involved in developing the cure against river blindness.  In 1987 he spearheaded the decision by Merck to distribute that cure free to millions of people in what became one of the first and foremost examples of a public/private partnership in international health.”

Professor Campbell is the third Trinity graduate to have been awarded a Nobel Prize, joining physicist E.T.S. Walton who won the Nobel Prize for splitting the atom, and Samuel Beckett for his contribution to literature.

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