Skip to Content

Helicobacter pylori and the Bacterial Theory of Ulcers


Author(s)

Debra A. Meuler
Biology Department
Cardinal Stritch University
dameuler@stritch.edu

Abstract

This case is an account of the events that led Drs. Robin Warren and Barry Marshall to the bacterial theory of ulcers. The two physicians refused to accept the standard explanations for what they had observed and instead developed an alternative hypothesis, saving countless patients from unnecessary pain and suffering. Along the way they transformed the way the medical community viewed peptic ulcer disease. The case shows the importance of curiosity, serendipity, and tenacity in scientific inquiry; how science is built upon the work of others; how assumptions can cloud people's views, leaving them closed to new ideas; and how scientific "truth" can and does change when faced with new data and new interpretations. It is appropriate for use in any course at the high school or undergraduate level that teaches students about the scientific method and/or the sociology, nature, and history of science.


Objectives

  • Trace the development of a major idea in biology/medicine.
  • Learn about the cultures in which the people profiled in this case story lived and worked.
  • Illustrate the scientific method using a real life example.
  • Provide insight into how a discipline's base assumptions can affect scientific progress.
  • Provide an opportunity for students to analyze authentic data.
  • Show how scientists identify a causal relationship between a pathogen and a particular disease.

Keywords

Helicobacter pylori; ulcer; gastritis; nature of science; sociology of science; experimental design; J. Robin Warren; Barry Marshall; Nobel Prize

Topical Areas

History of science, Scientific method

Educational Level

High school, Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division

Format

PDF

Type / Methods

Analysis (Issues), Discussion

Language

English

Subject Headings

Biology (General)  |   Microbiology  |   Science (General)  |   Medicine (General)  |   Science Education  |  


Date Posted

2/18/2011

Teaching Notes

Case teaching notes are password-protected and access to them is limited to paid subscribed instructors. To become a paid subscriber, begin the process by registering.

Teaching notes are intended to help teachers select and adopt a case. They typically include a summary of the case, teaching objectives, information about the intended audience, details about how the case may be taught, and a list of references and resources.

Answer Key

Answer keys for the cases in our collection are password-protected and access to them is limited to paid subscribed instructors. To become a paid subscriber, begin the process by registering.

Comments