Gastroenterology

The Great Ulcer War: How It All Happened

All gastroenterologists, most physicians, and many members of the general public are familiar with the discovery of gastric spiral bacteria in Western Australia in the early 1980s and the struggle to convince us that these bacteria, which we now call Helicobacter pylori, were a significant clinical issue. The eventual acceptance of Marshall and Warrren’s ideas resulted in their receiving the Nobel Prize for Medicine or Physiology in 2005. In contrast with the success story of triumph over adversity of these Antipodean pioneers that has been well-disseminated in the medical and lay media, little has been written about why the United States was particularly slow to accept the infectious theory of peptic ulcers.

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