Nobel Laureate inspires students with his life's work
Students had a rare opportunity to meet and ask questions of one of the 2015 recipients of the Nobel Prize in Medicine. Dr. William Campbell gave a modified version of his Nobel Lecture to Upper School students.
He is a biologist and parasitologist known for his work in discovering a very effective therapy against infections caused by roundworms. He helped to discover a class of drugs called avermectins, which treat River Blindness and other parasitic diseases. In the late 1980s Dr. Campbell helped persuade his then-employer Merck Research Laboratories to distribute a modified version of the drug called ivermectin without charge wherever it was needed. This has hugely helped to combat parasitic diseases in Africa, Latin America and Yemen. According to the World Health Organization, 98 million people in 31 African countries receive annual treatment through the program. Since 2009 the WHO’s focus on River Blindness has shifted from treatment to elimination.
Dr. Campbell received his Nobel Prize in Stockholm, Sweden in December. He told students the “ceremony” is actually a week long and filled with different formal meetings and ceremonies, where he and his wife met and dined with international dignitaries, and even royalty.
Many students have been studying infectious diseases and their causes in science classes and were somewhat familiar with Dr. Campbell’s research. After his presentation, they asked him many questions about his work, moral obligations to treat diseases, and advice on how to become a research scientist.
“Find hard work you find satisfying,” he said. “Take every opportunity to get into a lab when you can and do experiments where the answers are still unknown.”