Professor Barry Marshall receives prestigious award in China


2 Jul 2024

Australian Nobel Prize laureate Professor Barry Marshall has been honoured with one of China’s most prestigious international awards, recognising his work promoting scientific and technological cooperation between China and Australia.

The China International Science and Technology Cooperation Award, which is the nation’s highest scientific honour for foreign individuals or international organisations, was awarded to Professor Marshall in Beijing last week.

Known globally for his groundbreaking discovery of the Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacterium and its association with peptic ulcer diseases, Professor Marshall’s laboratory has since developed enhanced methods for non-invasive studies on the molecular epidemiology of H. pylori, notably rapid breath test methods and retrieval of the organism (and culture) from a swallowed string.

The gastroenterologist is also founder and director of ONDEK, a biotechnology company developing new biologic delivery systems for vaccines and therapeutics  utilising the unique characteristics of the gut bacterium, and TRI-MED, a diagnostics company developing H. pylori tests.

After helping reduce H. pylori prevalence in Australia, he shifted his focus to China, which accounts for half of the world’s gastric cancer cases, leading significant projects like the semi-automatic H. pylori culturing system and large-scale clinical trials.

His efforts have played a key role in enhancing medical diagnostics and treatment methods in China, including the establishment of research centres and partnerships, such as the Marshall Laboratory of Biomedical Engineering at Shenzhen University and collaborations with leading medical institutions.

Since 2017, Professor Marshall has also hosted visiting doctors, technicians, and scholars from China at the University of Western Australia’s Marshall Centre for Infectious Diseases, Research and Training to learn about H. pylori research.

He also has honorary membership in the Foreign Academician of Chinese Academy of Engineering and is a recipient of the China Friendship Award, which recognises “foreign experts who have made outstanding contributions to the country’s economic and social progress”.

Professor Marshall, a senior principal research fellow at the Marshall Centre at University of Western Australia, is the fifth Australian to receive the award.

“His commitment to sharing knowledge through public lectures and virtual conferences has also raised public awareness and educated countless healthcare professionals, further solidifying his legacy in the global scientific community,” said Professor Anna Nowak, the university’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research).

Professor Marshall accepted the award at a ceremony attended by Chinese State leaders at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, describing the award in his acceptance speech as a testament to the incredible teamwork, dedication, and innovation that had driven collective efforts in advancing medical science.

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