The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet announced today that they have awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine jointly to Harvey J. Alter, Michael Houghton, and Charles M. Rice for their contribution to the fight against blood-borne hepatitis, a major global health problem that causes cirrhosis and liver cancer in people around the world. Alter is a dual member of the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences, and Rice is a member of the National Academy of Sciences.
The three laureates made seminal discoveries that led to the identification of a novel virus, Hepatitis C virus. Prior to their work, the discovery of the Hepatitis A and B viruses had been critical steps forward, but the majority of blood-borne hepatitis cases remained unexplained. The discovery of Hepatitis C virus revealed the cause of the remaining cases of chronic hepatitis and made possible blood tests and new medicines that have saved millions of lives.
The NAM would like to congratulate all three individuals for this incredible discovery and well-earned recognition.