Opinion article* published in the Newcastle Herald authored by Professor Michael Nilsson, the Director of the Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) and Burges Professor of Medical Science.

IN medicine, unlike business, it’s what you know that counts.

Yet researchers can’t help wondering about how much is not known as well.

The pursuit to solve age-old health questions, often against a backdrop of scientific scepticism, is endless – a point hammered home this week when Professor Barry Marshall toured the new HMRI Building and delivered the David Maddison Lecture at the University of Newcastle.

Inspired by a thirst for knowledge, the Nobel laureate drank a cultured bacterium known as helicobacter pylori, willingly expecting to develop a stomach ulcer.

At the time, physicians believed that stress, spicy foods and excessive acid were the sole cause of ulcers, dismissing the notion that bacteria could survive in the stomach.

I imagine it would be an  occupational health and safety nightmare for a person to go to such extremes nowadays, but his curiosity eventually forged a link between bacterial infection and stomach cancer.

Read the full article in the Newcastle Herald.

HMRI is a partnership between the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Health and the community.

* Opinion pieces represent the author’s views.