Nobel Laureate: Prize-Winning Medicinal Discovery Found on Golf Course

October 5, 2015

Some say their best thinking happens when on the golf course, and for Japanese Nobel laureate Satoshi Omura, that statement couldn’t be more true.

The Kitasato University Professor Emeritus and his colleague William Campbell were awarded the Nobel Prize for medicine for their development of ivermectin, a drug that helps lower incidence of diseases caused by parasitic worms including river blindness and lymphatic filariasis (or elephantiasis). That development, Omura revealed, was found on the golf course.

Omura, who told reporters he always carries a plastic bag in his wallet to collect soil samples at any point in time, said that the key substance in ivermectin was taken from a microbe in a soil sample from a golf course near Tokyo.

When asked if he likes to play the game, Omura reportedly grinned and said yes.

“I have learned so much from microorganisms and I have depended on them, so I would much rather give the prize to microorganisms,” Omura told NHK, Japan’s national broadcaster.

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According to reports, Omura and Campbell’s discovery has contributed dramatically to reducing the number of people plagued by “stigmatizing and disabling symptoms” of river blindness (intense itching, skin discoloration, rashes, and eye disease often leading to permanent blindness) and elephantiasis (a gross enlargement of an area of the body).

No word on whether the discovery helped Omura’s golf game, but we’re guessing he’s pretty happy with what he’s done on the course.