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Hepatitis Researcher to Receive Canadian Award

April 1, 2013

Renowned infectious disease researcher and clinician Harvey J. Alter, MD, has been selected to receive the 2013 prestigious Canada Gairdner International Award as part of the Gairdner National Program (GNP), which focuses on stimulating interest in health and science among young people. Alter is chief of clinical studies and associate director of research in the Department of Transfusion Medicine at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Center in Bethesda, MD. GNP is a 10-day celebration of science excellence across Canada. The program takes place in 21 academic centers across the country in October.

Alter was the principal investigator on studies that identified non-A, non-B hepatitis, now called hepatitis C. His groundbreaking work provided the scientific underpinnings for the institution of blood donor screening programs that eventually decreased the incidence of transfusion-transmitted hepatitis to near zero. "Dr. Alter's research achievements in hepatitis have been transformative for public health practice in the U.S. and abroad," said John I. Gallin, MD, NIH Clinical Center director. "We are proud of his prominence in the field of biomedical research and the path he lays for the next generation of researchers."

Alter shares the award with Daniel Bradley, PhD, consultant at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Michael Houghton, PhD, researcher and professor at the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada, for their critical contributions to the discovery and isolation of the hepatitis C virus, which has led to development of new diagnostic and therapeutic agents.

Alter earned his medical degree from the University of Rochester Medical School (NY) and trained in internal medicine at Strong Memorial Hospital, Rochester, and at the University Hospitals of Seattle. He began his career at the NIH Clinical Center as a senior investigator in 1969. Alter was awarded the prestigious Clinical Lasker Award in 2000. In 2002, he was elected to the Institute of Medicine and became the first Clinical Center scientist elected to the National Academy of Sciences.

"Dr. Alter's career-long achievements in blood safety have done much to advance the cause of human health," said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD. "We at NIH are thrilled that he is being recognized with this prestigious international honor."

Alter will receive the award at a Gairdner National Program event on October 24, 2013, in Toronto, Canada.


Source:  NIH News, March 20, 2013