Ulcer Wars – The Barry Marshall Story

I watched “Ulcer Wars” – a BBC Horizon documentary – when it was first broadcast in May 1994. It tells the remarkable story of Barry Marshall and Robin Warren’s discovery of Helicobacter pylori and Marshall’s battle to gain mainstream medical acceptance for his well validated theory that H. pylori infection caused ulcers.

The documentary inspired me to include H . pylori as a water contaminant issue in my GV362 Water Resources module where it has remained since 1994.

Today the link between H. pylori and stomach ulcers is a matter of common knowledge, but in 1994 the broadcast of this documentary was still controversial amongst some doctors (e.g. Colin-Jones, D.G. (1994) The Subtle Microbe, British Medical Journal. 308: 1378. http://www.bmj.com/content/308/6940/1378.full)

Today, the documentary provides an important historical insight into one of the major breakthroughs in medicine of the late 20th century.

In 2005 Marshall and Warren were rewarded with the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine “for their discovery of the bacterium Helicobacter pylori and its role in gastritis and peptic ulcer disease”.

Ulcer Wars was written and produced by Michael Mosley who sadly died in June 2024

Final scene in Ulcer Wars