On the 10th of December 2005, Professor Barry Marshall AC, Patron of the Spinnaker Health Research Foundation, was jointly awarded the 2005 Nobel Prize for Medicine/Physiology for a discovery which is responsible for making immense savings in health care worldwide and preventing untold human suffering. While a Registrar at Fremantle Hospital, Professor Marshall worked with colleagues in Microbiology, Histopathology, Gastroenterology and Biochemistry to study a bacteria that had been identified by Dr Robin Warren AC, the co-winner of the Nobel Prize. Professor Marshall was convinced that the bacteria – Helicobacter pylori – was responsible for causing gastritis and peptic ulcer disease, a theory that went completely against worldwide medical opinion of the time.
In 1983 Professor Marshall stunned the medical world when he drank a beaker of water laced with the bacteria to prove the theory. Within a very short space of time he began developing the symptoms of an ulcer, which he then cured with a course of common antibiotics.
With a travel grant made available by the Medical Advisory Committee Travel Sub-Committee of Fremantle Hospital, Professor Marshall travelled to Brussels to present his findings at the Second International Workshop on Campylobacter Infections. He credits this travel grant as providing the means by which he was able to convince his peers of the significance of the discovery, and in his eventual joint win of the Nobel Prize. In recognition of the pivotal role that the travel grant played in bringing the discovery to the attention of the international medical community and to pay tribute to Professor Marshall’s great achievement, the Trustees of the Fremantle Hospital Medical Research Foundation – now known as the Spinnaker Health Research Foundation – announced the introduction of an annual Barry Marshall Travel Award, open to all medical and health researchers based in the south metropolitan region.
As further demonstration of Professor Marshall’s faith in what he believes can be accomplished by the hospital’s talented research community, Barry and Adrienne Marshall initially funded a number of Travel Awards. In making their personal donation of $10,000 Professor Marshall said “The generous support and encouragement I had at Fremantle Hospital in the early days allowed the H.Pylori work to come to fruition. I am honoured that you wish to introduce the Award and am sure that in the future it will seed many new projects and give WA researchers a vital chance to broaden their experience.”.
The prestigious Barry Marshall Travel Award now forms part of the Spinnaker Health Awards and Grants and will allow a south metropolitan based researcher to attend a national or international conference to present their research findings and outcomes.