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Rutgers’ Martin Blaser makes major contribution to medicine

<p>Martin J. Blaser is responsible for discovering new information about a human microbe that causes stomach cancer but also protects against other diseases.&nbsp;</p>

Martin J. Blaser is responsible for discovering new information about a human microbe that causes stomach cancer but also protects against other diseases. 

Martin J. Blaser, director of Rutgers Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine, Henry Rutgers Chair of the Human Microbiome and the professor of medicine and microbiology at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, received the 2019 Robert Koch Gold Medal for his life’s work and contribution to science, according to a University press release.

Blaser’s recent research findings are interesting because it complicates the notion that the human microbe, Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), is detrimental to the human body. Blaser had not only contributed to the finding that H. pylori causes stomach cancer, but he also contributed to the understanding that this microbe can also be helpful in protecting its human host against other diseases, according to the release.

Blaser mentioned the nuance of the germ and its role in the human body in his 1997 “Lancet” article. He also suggests that though modern life is advancing, the microbe is simultaneously disappearing. The disappearance of this microbe is problematic, since this has dire consequences for disease risk.

Though this microbe can prove itself to be a detrimental agent within the human body, it can also pose itself to be beneficial. Particularly, it has been proven to protect against esophageal cancer and asthma within children, according to the release. 

It is precisely the risk of the public being exposed to diseases which compels Blaser to caution doctors and the public when it comes to antibiotics, according to the release. 

“Antibiotics fight microbes that can make us sick and that can kill us. But, we now know that they also have a negative impact,” Blaser said. “The antibiotics damage our helpful microbes as well — it’s a form of collateral damage. And until now, we had not taken these consequences into account.”

The Robert Koch Foundation, based in Berlin, encourages further scientific research in this field of infectious diseases, which Blaser is invested in. The foundation also promotes research involving medical and hygienic issues. 

Aside from being awarded by The Robert Koch Foundation, Blaser has been deemed among one of the “100 most influential people in the world” by Time Magazine, according to the release. 

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