Harvey J. Alter
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2020
Born: 12 September 1935, New York, NY, USA
Affiliation at the time of the award: National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA
Prize motivation: “for the discovery of Hepatitis C virus”
Prize share: 1/3
Hepatitis is a group of diseases that cause inflammation of the liver. It can be caused by different viruses that are transmitted through blood. In the 1970s, two types of hepatitis, A and B, had been identified. Studies of people who had received blood transfusions allowed Harvey Alter and his colleagues to demonstrate that a previously unknown contagion also transmitted hepatitis. They were also able to show that this contagion was a virus. The finding was an important step in developing blood tests and new medications that have saved millions of lives.