Donegal welcomes home Nobel Prize winning son who helped find a drug to treat 'river blindness'

Prof William C Campbell has been lauded for his work in treating devastating parasitic diseases.

An Irish scientist who helped find a drug to treat “river blindness” has been given a civic reception in his native Donegal.

The reception was hosted by the cathaoirleach and by members of Donegal County Council, in recognition of Nobel laureate, Prof William C Campbell, for his outstanding achievement in jointly winning the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

A native of Ramelton, Prof Campbell was part of a team that discovered a class of drugs called avermectins, whose derivatives have been shown to have “extraordinary efficacy” in treating river blindness and lymphatic filariasis, among other parasitic diseases that affect animals and humans.

He was awarded the Nobel with Satoshi Omura, of Japan, and Tu Youyou, of China. Their discoveries have revolutionised the treatment of devastating parasitic diseases.

Prof Campbell was born in 1930 in Ramelton, the third son of RJ Campbell, a farm supplier. He is married to Mary Mastin Campbell and he is also a published poet and a painter.

Cllr Terence Slowey, cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council, described Prof Campbell as an inspiration. “It is a humbling experience for me to be in the presence of a man whose life’s work has impacted on so many people. Hundreds of millions of people are alive today because of your work, and because of the team of people that you have worked with throughout your career”.

He added: “We are delighted that you have taken the time to visit your native Donegal. Your presence has captured the imagination of many, and I have been particularly touched by how you have engaged with our children and young people”.

Prof Campbell spoke of his delight at returning home to Donegal.

“I am always delighted to be in Donegal and this visit is very special, indeed.”

He added: “if there was a Nobel Prize for hospitality and welcomes, then Donegal would win it, and if there was a Nobel Prize for beauty and scenery, Donegal would also win that.”

Prof Campbell was presented with a specially commissioned painting, North by North West, by renowned artist, Fionntann Gogarty, as well as a framed seal of office from Donegal County Council.


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