Dr. Harvey J. Alter

2020 Nobel Laureate

Dr. Harvey J. Alter, NIH Clinical Center, shares the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Dr. Michael Houghton, University of Alberta, and Dr. Charles M. Rice, Rockefeller University, New York, NY, for the discovery of Hepatitis C virus. Dr. Alter co-discovered the Australia antigen, a key to detecting hepatitis B virus. Later, he spearheaded a project at the Clinical Center that created a storehouse of blood samples used to uncover the causes and reduce the risk of transfusion-associated hepatitis. He was principal investigator on studies that identified non-A, non-B hepatitis, now called hepatitis C. His work was instrumental in providing the scientific basis for instituting blood donor screening programs that have decreased the incidence of transfusion-transmitted hepatitis to near zero. In 2013 he received the Canada Gairdner International Award, given to a scientist whose advances have had, or will potentially have, a significant impact on health outcomes in the developing world. Alter continues to study the infectious risks of blood transfusion, but now focuses on agents other than hepatitis viruses. In addition, he continues to study the natural history and outcomes of hepatitis C virus infection.

This page last reviewed on October 5, 2020