Domhnall MacAuley is a CMAJ Associate Editor and a professor of primary care in Northern Ireland, UK
We expect Nobel Prize winners to be high profile researchers of almost celebrity status, pioneering cutting edge science that changes the world at a stroke. And, then I heard that one of this year’s winners was William C Campbell, a fellow Irish man. I didn’t recognise the name, was unfamiliar with his work, and knew nothing of his background. But, as the media story broke, I learned more about him. He came from Ramelton, a small village in County Donegal, far from the bright lights and, like many Irish doctors, undertook his graduate work in the US. His research was in worms - not the type of glamorous cutting edge clinical science that features in glossy magazines but, from the messy world of vials and dishes and parasitic roundworms kept in the freezer.
“You must be kidding!” was his reaction, when telephoned with the news.
But, his findings did change the world. ...continue reading