The first Microbe of the Month is Helicobacter pylori, my favorite bacterium during my graduate school years.
Discovery of Helicobacter pylori
Stomach ulcers were traditionally thought to be caused by stress. However, in 1982 Barry Marshall and Robin Warren discovered that the bacterium Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori for short) is actually the cause of these ulcers. These scientists found that almost all stomach biopsies from patients with gastric ulcers also contained this helical shaped bacteria (hence the name Helicobacter). Barry and Marshall's discovery was met with much skepticism at the time. Desperate to prove that H. pylori was indeed the cause of gastric ulcers, Marshall drank a culture of H. pylori and developed gastric ulcers that were accompanied by H. pylori in his gastric biopsies. He then cured himself of the infection by taking antibiotics. For this discovery Marshall and Warren were awarded the Novel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2005. (more…)