Illustration of Harvey J. Alter, Michael Houghton and and Charles M. Rice
Illustrations of Harvey J. Alter, Michael Houghton and and Charles M. Rice | Twitter: @NobelPrize
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Bloomberg: Harvey J. Alter and Charles M. Rice of the U.S., and Michael Houghton of the U.K. were awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their seminal discoveries that led to the identification of a novel virus, Hepatitis C.

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 Assembly at Karolinska Institutet said in a statement on Monday.

“For the first time in history, the disease can now be cured, raising hopes of eradicating Hepatitis C virus from the world population,” it said.

Alter was born in New York in 1935 and has worked at the National Institutes of Health as well as Georgetown University. Houghton was born in the U.K., and is currently Canada Excellence Research Chair in Virology and the Li Ka Shing Professor of Virology at the University of Alberta. Rice was born in 1952 in Sacramento, and has worked at Washington University School of Medicine and the Rockefeller University. Between 2001 and 2018, he was the Scientific and Executive Director, Center for the Study of Hepatitis C at Rockefeller University, where he remains active.

Annual prizes for achievements in physics, chemistry, medicine, peace and literature were established in the will of Alfred Nobel, the Swedish inventor of dynamite, who died in 1896. The prize in economic sciences was added by Sweden’s central bank in 1968.


Last year, the medicine prize went to William G. Kaelin of the U.S., Peter J. Ratcliffe of the U.K., and Gregg L. Semenza of the U.S. for “their discoveries of how cells sense and adapt to oxygen availability.” Previous winners include Francis Crick and James Watson for their discoveries around the structure of DNA.

The Nobel Foundation announced last month it was increasing the amount awarded for individual prizes to 10 million kronor ($1.1 million), from 9 million kronor previously, to reflect a rise in the returns generated on its capital. Bloomberg

Also read: Pharma giant Mylan wants hepatitis C drug’s clinical trial for Covid waived, regulator says no


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