Staffan Normark, MD

Staffan Normark, MD, Swedish physician, microbiologist and infectious disease researcher and member of two of the organizations that help select Nobel laureates, received an honorary doctor of humanities degree on May 20, 2016.

Members of the Washington University in St. Louis Class of 2016 joined family, friends and other members of the university family for Washington University's 155th Commencement Ceremony in the Brookings Quadrangle in St. Louis Friday, May 20, 2016. Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton led the ceremony, with US Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) serving as Commencement speaker, with honorary degrees being presented to Lewis, Euclid Williamson, Paula Kerger, Staffan Normark, MD, and Stephen Brauer. Student speakers were Christine Lung and Ashley Macrander. Photo by James Byard / WUSTL Photos

Staffan Normark is an international leader in understanding how bacterial pathogens bind to cells. He was the first to discover how the stomach ulcer-causing bacteria H. pylori was able to bind to gastric epithelial cells in the stomach.

His finding shed light on a problem that affects millions around the world and has helped lead to new therapies to address the painful illness.

Normark did that work with H. pylori while serving as head of the Department of Molecular Microbiology at Washington University School of Medicine from 1989 to 1993.

Promoting science in Sweden

After leaving Washington University in 1993, he returned to his native Sweden as a professor in the Department of Microbiology, Tumor Biology and Cell Biology at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm.Normark-source-300x300

During the past 30 years, Normark, who is now senior professor at Karolinska, has been engaged in promoting science and evaluating research as a member of two of the organizations that help identify and select Nobel Prize winners.

In 1987, he was elected to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, the organization that selects the Nobel Prizes in Physics and Chemistry and in Economic Sciences. He was appointed permanent secretary of that group in 2010, a position he held until June 2015.

As permanent secretary, he had the responsibility of placing the phone calls to inform scientists they had won the Nobel Prize as well as publicly announcing the winners.

As a member of the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet since 1995, and its chairman in 2010, he helps select the winners of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

More Honorary Degree Recipients