RISE associate fellow discovers drug that treats parasitic diseases.

October 2015 – William Campbell, a scientist and associate fellow in Drew University’s RISE program, today won a Nobel Prize for discovering a drug that treats parasitic diseases.

Dr. William Campbell, Nobel Laureate, works one-on-one with a Drew undergraduate student on real-world, scientific research as part of Drew's unique RISE Program, through which senior scientists work directly with students in the lab. (Photo credit: Bill Denison/Drew University)
Dr. William Campbell, Nobel Laureate, works one-on-one with a Drew undergraduate student on real-world, scientific research as part of Drew’s unique RISE Program, through which senior scientists work directly with students in the lab. (Photo credit: Bill Denison/Drew University)

Campbell shares the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Satoshi Omura of Japan. The drug they discovered is avermectin, and a derivative, ivermectin, has significantly lowered the incidences of River Blindness and Lymphatic Filariasis, according to The New York Times.

“Drew University is thrilled that Dr. William Campbell was named a Nobel Laureate for his work that literally helped save millions of lives,” said MaryAnn Baenninger, president of Drew University. “We are so proud that this stellar scientist is part of the Drew community’s Research Institute for Scientists Emeriti program working directly with Drew undergraduate students.”

In an interview with Nobel Media Chief Scientific Officer Adam Smith, Campbell said his first reaction was, “You must be kidding.”

RISE, a program that Drew established in 1980, enables students to do research with scientists who have retired from the corporate world. Before Drew, Campbell spent decades at Merck, where he was part of a team that developed Ivermectin.

“So, I think of it as an award that I’m the representative of the Merck company’s research teams,” Campbell told Smith.

As an associate fellow, Campbell lectures honors science students and works with doctoral students. For example, he supervised the PhD thesis of a student in Drew’s Caspersen School of Graduate Studies. In the past five years, he has lectured three times, most recently in the spring of 2015.

Campbell became an associate fellow in 2010, after 20 years of teaching as a fellow. Many of his past students took to Drew’s Facebook page to laud him and his world-class accomplishment.

“Such a brilliant a humble man,” wrote David Cennimo.

Sharon Dawso echoed that sentiment, noting that Campbell was “humble describing his work on Ivermectin, and incredibly eloquent as he explained the challenges in providing medicine in an underdeveloped environment.”

Stephen Von Stetina, who took two courses with the scientist, said, “What I remember most is his kindness, his manners and his awesome dry sense of humor. I am happy that so humble a man, who has done so much for so many, is being recognized for those efforts.”

Added Elena Tartaglia, “I took Dr. Campbell’s parasite course over ten years ago and still remember it. I also remember him showing us poetry he wrote about flukes and parasite paintings.”

For media inquiries, contact Drew Chief Communications Officer Kira Poplowski at kpoplowski@drew.edu or 310-463-2953.