School of Medicine and Dentistry Alumnus Harvey J. Alter Wins Nobel Prize

Oct. 6, 2020
Alter Honored for ‘landmark achievement’ against hepatitis

A Senior Scholar at the NIH Clinical Center's Department of Transfusion Medicine, Harvey J. Alter, M.D., received the award for the discovery of Hepatitis C virus along with British scientist Michael Houghton and Rockefeller University scientist Charles Rice. Thanks to their work, “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 noted.

An alumnus of both the undergraduate college (1956) and the School of Medicine and Dentistry (1960), Alter is the 13th Nobel laureate with ties to the University.

"We're proud that Dr. Alter's distinguished medical career began here, and hope his accomplishments provide inspiration to the young physicians and scientists to-be who are studying and training within the same walls," said Mark Taubman, M.D., URMC CEO and dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry.

Lynne Maquat, the J. Lowell Orbison Distinguished Service Alumni Professor and director of the Center for RNA Biology at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, said Alter’s efforts to reduce the dangers caused by a virus hold important lessons for how medical science can improve human lives.

“In these days of COVID-19, Dr. Alter’s dedication to eliminating problems caused by another virus—hepatitis C infections transmitted by blood transfusions—engenders hope for us all,” Maquat said. “Dr. Alter is a gentleman and a scholar who, through science, has dedicated a large portion of his life to bettering the health of mankind.”

Read more about Alter’s research.