Harvey J. Alter MD

Recipient of the Canada Gairdner International Award, 2013
"For critical contributions to the discovery and isolation of the hepatitis C virus, which has led to the development of new diagnostic and therapeutic agents"

Senior Investigator and Chief Infectious Diseases Section and Associate Director for Research, Department of Transfusion Medicine, National Institute of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA

Dr. Harvey Alter earned his medical degree at the University of Rochester Medical School, and trained in internal medicine at Strong Memorial Hospital and at the University of Washington Hospital in Seattle. In 1961, he came to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as a clinical associate. He then spent several years at Georgetown University, returning to NIH in 1969 to join the Clinical Center's Department of Transfusion Medicine as a senior investigator, later becoming Chief of Clinical Studies and Associate Director of Research in the Department of Transfusion Medicine at the NIH Clinical Center. Dr. Alter co-discovered the Australia antigen, a key to detecting hepatitis B virus. Later, Dr. Alter spearheaded a project at the Clinical Center that created a storehouse of blood samples used to uncover the causes and reduce the risk of transfusion-associated hepatitis. He was principal investigator on studies that identified non-A, non-B hepatitis, now called hepatitis C. His work was instrumental in providing the scientific basis for instituting blood donor screening programs that have decreased the incidence of transfusion-transmitted hepatitis to near zero. Dr. Alter was also awarded the Clinical Lasker Award in 2000. In 2002, he became the first Clinical Center scientist elected to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). That same year, Dr. Alter was also elected to the Institute of Medicine.