2006, 55 Minutes
What does it take to win a Nobel Prize? Guts? Brilliance? Eccentricity? This film travels behind the scenes of the world’s most prestigious prize and into the minds of two of the people who have reached this pinnacle of excellence.
In the most isolated capital city in the world, Perth, Western Australia, two scientists are interrupted while enjoying their fish and chips lunch by a phone call from Stockholm, Sweden. They have just been informed that they have been awarded the 2005 Nobel Prize for Medicine and could they make it to the awards ceremony?
Australian scientists Barry Marshall and Robin Warren journey to the prize-winners’ podium is more than just a trip to the opposite side of the world to sub-zero temperatures, cultural pomp and extreme Swedish scheduling—it has been a career of trial and error, endless research and Aussie-battler-style stubborn determination. Today, this odd couple of science travel the globe as heroes—ambassadors of the science world—but it was 23 years ago in a modest hospital laboratory in Perth that Marshall and Warren discovered a bacterium that survived in the human stomach that they called Helicobacter pylori. They believed that this bacterium, not stress, caused gastritis and peptic stomach ulcers, much to the chagrin of the medical world, which at the time scorned them. After years of careful observation, luck and persistence, they finally had the breakthrough they needed, but not before Marshall infected himself, using his own body as a guinea pig to test their theory. Something that a pathologist noticed as a tiny blue line under a microscope was now a documented new species.
The questioning minds of Marshall and Warren have revolutionised the medical community’s approach to treatment and dramatically improved the health prospects of millions of people by identifying the real cause of peptic stomach ulcers. This film follows Marshall and Warren’s curious and unpretentious lives, capturing their off-beat humour, the people that surround them, struggles, mateship and their paradigm-shifting finding to reveal the profound impact, wonder and excitement of groundbreaking scientific discovery.
Through them and other Nobel laureates, we discover what it’s really like to win. We also celebrate Australia’s proud history of Nobel Prize for Medicine recipients.
A Film Australia and Electric Pictures Production in association with ScreenWest and Lotterywest. Developed and produced in association with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. © 2011 National Film and Sound Archive of Australia, ScreenWest, Electric Pictures.
Director: Mark Gould
Running Time: 55 Minutes