New Jersey UCC member William Campbell wins a Nobel Prize

William_Campbell-Nobel_Prize.jpgIt’s been a busy week so far for William Campbell. The Irish-born member of a United Church of Christ congregation in New Jersey has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine. Since the announcement on Monday, Oct. 5, Campbell is spending a lot of time on the phone, doing interviews and answering questions about the top award in science.

When he learned of his award, Campbell said, “[T]he first thing I said was, ‘You must be kidding!'”

Campbell was given the Nobel Prize for his research on therapies against infections caused by roundworm parasites. Campbell, part of the Christ Church congregation in Summit, N.J., shares the award with Japanese scientist Satoshi Omura and Chinese scientist Youyou Tu.

The Rev. Chuck Rush, pastor of Christ Church, believes that Campbell’s story “is a window into how spirituality and science can work together to promote human flourishing,” he said. “We just don’t have many stories like that these days.”

Born in Ireland in 1930, Campbell worked at the Merck Institute for Therapeutic Research from 1957 to 1990, and is currently a research fellow emeritus at Drew University in Madison, N.J. At Merck, the pharmaceutical company developed a cure for river blindness, something Campbell considers a team accomplishment.

“I think of it as an award that I’m the representative of the Merck Company’s research team,” he said. “[The drug] has made a huge impact in preventing blindness. Blindness anywhere, and especially in certain areas of the world, is likely to be calamitous and fatal because people cannot be productive and make a living when they are blind, in some circumstances. So it has certainly changed lives and changed the ability of people to live in certain fertile areas of land which they had had to abandon because of the disease, and this enables them to repopulate areas that had been abandoned, so that has been another way it has been important.”

Rush said that Campbell, who retired to Cape Cod with his wife, Mary, will speak to his fellow congregants about the subject on Nov. 15 at Christ Church.

Categories: United Church of Christ News

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