Parasitic Diseases and the Nobel Prize for Medicine

This year’s prize was awarded to William C. Campbell and Satoshi Ōmura, and to Youyou Tu.

Fredrik Sandberg / TT / AP

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine has been jointly awarded to William C. Campbell and Satoshi Ōmura, and to Youyou Tu for “therapies that have revolutionized the treatment of some of the most devastating parasitic diseases.”

Here’s more from the Nobel Committee:

William C. Campbell and Satoshi Ōmura discovered a new drug, Avermectin, the derivatives of which have radically lowered the incidence of River Blindness and Lymphatic Filariasis, as well as showing efficacy against an expanding number of other parasitic diseases. Youyou Tu discovered Artemisinin, a drug that has significantly reduced the mortality rates for patients suffering from Malaria.

“These two discoveries have provided humankind with powerful new means to combat these debilitating diseases that affect hundreds of millions of people annually,” the committee said in a statement. “The consequences in terms of improved human health and reduced suffering are immeasurable.”

Campbell, a native of Ireland, worked with the Merck Institute for Therapeutic Research from 1957 to 1990. He is now a research fellow emeritus at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey.

Ōmura, a Japanese citizen, was a researcher at the Kitasato Institute, Japan, from 1965 to 1971 and a professor at Kitasato University from 1975-2007. He has been a professor emeritus at the university since 2007.

Tu, a Chinese citizen, has been at the China Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine since 1965. From 2000, she has been chief professor there. She is the first Chinese medicine laureate.

The three winners will share the prize of 8 million Swedish kronor (about $960,000). Half will go to Campbell and Ōmura; the other half to Tu. They will each will receive a diploma and a gold medal on December 10, at the award ceremony that falls on the death of Alfred Nobel, who founded the prize.