The 90th birthday of Nobel Laureate Prof William C Campbell will be celebrated virtually today in special ways across Donegal.
Prof William C Campbell, who grew up in Ramelton, is Ireland’s only Nobel Prize winner for Medicine.
The scientist will spend his birthday at his home in Massachusetts, while the day will be marked with the presentation of a ‘digital gift’ from Ramelton and with the launch of his memoir online.
A bronze statue of the professor was due to be unveiled in Ramelton this weekend, but this event has been postponed due to Covid-19. Instead, three digital gifts will be sent to Prof Campbell from locals. They include a poem written by Denise Blake, a letter from outgoing Minister for Education Joe McHugh and a birthday card created by Ramelton artist Laura Buchanan.
Prof Campbell’s quiet retirement changed abruptly when, at the age of 85, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2015 for his development of a cure for River Blindness while working with pharmaceutical company MSD. The disease is caused by a parasitic worm. Prof Campbell’s treatment has saved the sight of hundreds of millions of people in Africa, Latin America and Yemen.
Prof Campbell’s and his team’s discovery of the drug ivermectin has had a huge and helpful influence on human and animal health. Researchers have also turned their attention to the antiparasitic drug in the race to find a cure for Covid-19, however no official studies have yet been published.
William Campbell’s memoir, Catching the worm, will be launched by the Royal Irish Academy, in partnership with the RDS, this Sunday evening to coincide with his birthday.
In his memoir, Campbell provides a snapshot of growing up in Ireland before and during World War II, as well as insights into science, the arts, teaching, family and what really matters in life. Campbell’s book recalls his early life in Donegal and studying zoology in Trinity College Dublin, then moving to the United States to work as a parasitologist.
A filmed podcast will be launched this evening at 8pm, featuring William C. Campbell in conversation with Luke O’Neill and Claire O’Connell. Watch the event at: https://www.ria.ie/catchingtheworm