Jewish researcher shares Nobel Prize in medicine for identifying hepatitis C virus

Dr. Harvey Alter of the National Institutes of Health shared the 2020 Nobel Prize in medicine for identifying hepatitis C virus

Marcy Oster

(JTA) — The Nobel Prize in medicine was awarded to three scientists who identified the hepatitis C virus.

The prize was awarded Monday to Harvey Alter of the National Institutes of Health, Michael Houghton of the University of Alberta, and Charles Rice of Rockefeller University.

“The Nobel Laureates’ discovery of Hepatitis C virus is a landmark achievement in the ongoing battle against viral diseases. Thanks to their discovery, highly sensitive blood tests for the virus are now available and these have essentially eliminated post-transfusion hepatitis in many parts of the world, greatly improving global health,” the Nobel committee said in announcing the prize.

Alter, 85, who is Jewish, was born in New York and attended medical school at the University of Rochester. Early in his career he worked with Nobel Prize winning scientist Baruch Blumberg, who identified the hepatitis B virus.

ADVERTISEMENT
JCC Summer Membership Ad


In 2000, he received the Albert Lasker Award for Clinical Medical Research for his work leading to the discovery of the virus that causes hepatitis C.

Houghton isolated the genetic sequence of the new hepatitis C virus while working at Chiron Corporation in the 1980s. Rice showed that hepatitis C virus alone could cause hepatitis.