The Importance of Observation: Dr. A. Stone Freedberg

By | May 7, 2017


I learned recently of an incredible doctor. He’s worth knowing about.

As early as 1939, Dr. A. Stone Freedberg of Beth Israel Hospital, Boston, conducted research to show that bacteria caused stomach ulcers. His work was discouraged and then abandoned in favor of more promising fields. He became a cardiologist and developed a treatment which was used for pain relief due to severe angina.

But what of the cause of stomach ulcers?

“For years, coroners had noticed a tendency for spirochete bacteria to be present in autopsies of patients with ulcers, but they generally ascribed this phenomenon to post-mortem buildup. Between 1939 and 1941, Freedberg performed and published research documenting his finding the bacteria in living patients, but this was never confirmed by other researchers and he was discouraged from further research.” (

It wasn’t until 1983 that others described this infectious cause of stomach ulcers and were awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2005.

Imagine if Dr. Freedberg had continued with his research, and proved as early as 1940 that most stomach ulcers were caused by bacteria?

  • Ulcer sufferers would have been treated with the antibiotic Penicillin (which came into general use in 1940), and later with amoxicillin (1972), as they are today.
  • People could have healed quickly, and would not have been put on fat-rich diets which would later clog their arteries and lead to early death.
  • Hundreds of millions would have been spared endless tests and surgeries.
  • GI doctors would have been free to work on other areas of research and treatment.

Let’s remember the importance of observation.

Read more about Dr. Abraham Stone Freedberg: