Abraham Stone Freedberg

BMJ 2010; 340 doi: (Published 14 May 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c2575
  1. Ned Stafford

    A Stone Freedberg was an American cardiologist whose pioneering research of stomach ulcers helped lay the foundation for the later identification of Helicobacter pylori.

    It was no doubt one of the sweetest moments of A Stone Freedberg’s long life when he opened up the Lancet issue of 4 June 1983 to find letters to the editor from Barry J Marshall and J Robin Warren. The two Australian researchers had identified bacteria, now known as Helicobacter pylori, among patients with stomach ulcers.

    After reading the exciting news, Freedberg, at the time a 75 year old professor emeritus of cardiology at Harvard Medical School, typed a short letter, beginning: “Dear Dr Marshall: I was very pleased to see the letters from Dr Warren and you on the spiral bacteria in human stomachs. It’s over 40 years since I spent evenings and weekends cutting and staining tissues from stomach operations ….”

    Indeed, Freedberg in 1939 had suspected that bacteria might be the cause of ulcers. After countless hours in the laboratory he co-authored a paper on the topic that was mostly ignored or ridiculed—medical experts at the time, and for decades to come, blamed ulcers mainly on stress. Freedberg discontinued his research, which remained mostly forgotten until cited in Marshall’s 1983 letter in …

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