NIH Clinical Center

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Research Spotlight: Clinical Center Profile 2000-2001


Photo: Lasker Award winner Dr. Harvey J. AlterDr. Harvey J. Alter, infectious disease specialist in the CC Transfusion Medicine Department, was awarded a 2000 Lasker Award for clinical medical research at ceremonies in New York City. He shares the award with Dr. Michael Houghton, a scientist with the Chiron Corporation. The award honors Dr. Alter’s ongoing studies to uncover the causes and reduce the risks of transfusion-associated hepatitis and Dr. Houghton’s continuing work in molecular biology to isolate the virus, hepatitis C.

Thirty years ago, Dr. Alter spearheaded a project at the NIH Clinical Center that created a storehouse of blood samples used to uncover the causes and reduce the risk of transfusion-associated hepatitis. Before this, about a third of transfused people received tainted blood, which later inflamed their livers, producing a condition known as hepatitis. Because of Dr. Alter's work, the U.S. instituted blood and donor screening programs that have served to increase the safety of the nation’s blood supply.

The Lasker Awards, first presented in 1946 and often called America’s Nobels, annually honor the country’s most outstanding contributions in basic and clinical medical research.

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