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Catching the worm: towards ending river blindness, and reflections on my life

by  William C. CampbellClaire O'Connell
€ 20.00

Book Details

Published by Royal Irish Academy in partnership with the RDS

June 2020

Number of pages: 200

ISBN: 9781911479338


PDF icon Advance Information

The book was launched online on Sunday, 28 June, at 8 p.m.
with a special event premiered on our YouTube channel: 
‘William C. Campbell in conversation with Luke O’Neill and Claire O’Connell’.

In 2015, Dr William C. Campbell’s quiet retirement changed abruptly when, at the age of 85, he won a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. In Catching The Worm – A Memoir, Campbell recalls his early life in Donegal and studying zoology in Trinity College Dublin, then moving to the United States to work as a parasitologist. While working with the company Merck, he helped to discover several drugs to control parasitic worms. One of those drugs, ivermectin, has spared millions of people from the devastating effects of river blindness. Through his memoir, Campbell provides a snapshot of growing up in Ireland before and during World War II, as well as insights into science, the arts, teaching, family and what really matters in life.

Catching the worm is published by the Royal Irish Academy in partnership with the RDS.

This book is also available on JSTOR. For more information, institutions can visit Books at JSTOR or contact

You can buy the eBook here.

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'Nobel laureate Campbell’s memoir captures the essence of scientific endeavour...His career is outlined in beautifully measured writing, and marked by qualities of restraint and humility'. Kevin O'Sullivan, Irish Times, 25/06/2020. Read the full review here.

'Catching the Worm takes us on a 90-year journey through the author’s richly fulfilling life, candidly revealing along the way his feelings and emotions regarding his parents, siblings, marriage and children, as well as his scientific career...Campbell’s wit and wisdom shine throughout the book'. Vincent J. Cirillo, PhD, Medical History Society of New Jersey, 15/07/2020. Read the full review here.

'an absorbing and clearly-written account of the Nobel laureate’s life and work'. Niall Hunter, World of Irish Nursing, September 2020. Read the full review here.

About the authors

William C. Campbell

Dr William C. Campbell is a biologist and Nobel laureate. From Ramelton, County Donegal, Ireland, he played roles in the discovery and development of several new treatments against parasitic worms. In 2002, he was elected to the US National Academy of Sciences and in 2015, he shared one half of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Professor Satoshi Omura ‘for their discoveries concerning a novel therapy against infections caused by roundworm parasites’. Bill lives in North Andover with his wife, Mary. They have three children and five grandchildren.

Claire O'Connell

Dr Claire O’Connell is a scientist-turned-writer. From Dublin, Ireland, she studied science at University College Dublin, graduating in 1998 with a PhD in cell biology. She also holds a Master’s in Science Communication from Dublin City University. Since 2005, she has written extensively for Silicon Republic and for The Irish Times. In 2016, she was named Irish Science Writer of the Year. Claire lives in Dublin with her husband, Fearghal, and their two children.