Honorary Degree Recipient Receives Nobel Prize in Medicine

Published: 5 October 2015


Dr. William C. Campbell, D.Sc.'07, is among the three scientists awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, announced October 5, 2015, by the Nobel Prize Committee. William Campbell received his Honorary Doctorate at the Macdonald Campus convocation in 2007.

Together with Dr. Satoshi Omura, Dr. Campbell was honoured for discovering “therapies that have revolutionized the treatment of some of the most devastating parasitic diseases.” They 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.

Professor Roger Prichard, James McGill Professor in the Institute of Parasitology, (pictured with William Campbell, right, at Macdonald Convocation in 2007) has known Dr. Campbell for many years. "Bill was head of the team at Merck Inc. that discovered the amazing properties of the avermectin class of compounds against nematodes," said Prichard. "From the initial discoveries, Ivermectin was developed and commercialized, initially for use in farm animals and horses. Bill Campbell was very directly involved in discovering the amazing efficacy of ivermectin against filarial nematode parasites. This discovery led initially to the development of ivermectin for the prevention of heartworm in dogs and eventually to clinical studies using ivermectin in humans to combat Onchocerca volvulus, the filarial parasite which causes Onchocerciasis or River Blindness.

Since 1987, Merck Inc. has donated 1 billion doses of Ivermectin to treat onchocerciasis and lymphatic filariasis, a related filarial infection that causes elephantiasis in endemic areas of Africa.

Researchers in the Institute of Parasitology, strive to further our understanding of the drug, and are searching for answers to the growing incidence of Ivermectin resistance in parasites of animals and humans.

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