The 2020 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine has been awarded to scientists Harvey J. Alter and Charles M. Rice of the United States and Michael Houghton of Britain for their “seminal discoveries” into the identification of Hepatitis C virus.
The three scientists “have made a decisive contribution to the fight against blood-borne hepatitis, a major global health problem that causes cirrhosis and liver cancer in people around the world,” the Nobel committee said in a statement.
The advances have helped lead to new ways treating and curing Hepatitis C.
“The discovery of Hepatitis C virus revealed the cause of the remaining cases of chronic hepatitis” after the discoveries of Hepatitis A and B viruses, “and made possible blood tests and new medicines that have saved millions of lives,” the statement said.
Born in 1935 in New York, Harvey Alter graduated with a medical degree at the University of Rochester Medical School. Alter worked for a long time as a senior investigator at the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
Michael Houghton was born in Britain in the 1950s. He received his doctorate degree in virology at King’s College London. Houghton is currently a Canada Excellence Research Chair in Virology at the University of Alberta, among other titles and accolades.
Born in 1952 in Sacramento, California, Charles Rice received his doctorate degree in 1981 from the California Institute of Technology. He has also worked at Washington University School of Medicine as a researcher and professor. He joined the Rockefeller University in New York and from 2001 to 2018 he was the scientific and executive director of the Center for the Study of Hepatitis C. Rice is still active there.
This year’s Nobel Prize in Medicine is the 111th prize in the category that has been awarded since 1901.
The laureates will each receive an equal share of the $1.1 million cash award.
The Nobel Prizes for physics, chemistry, literature, and peace also will be announced this week. The prize for economic science will be announced next Monday.