Dr. Harvey Alter, Nobel Prize Winner, Visits Baldwin
Dr. Harvey J. Alter, a designated Distinguished National Institutes of Health (NIH) Investigator and Nobel Prize winner, visited with Upper School students of The Baldwin School. Dr. Alter’s granddaughter, Marin Alter ’24, is a Junior at Baldwin and introduced her grandfather with details and photos from his Nobel Prize award ceremony, which took place at the Stockholm Concert Hall in Sweden on Dec. 10, 2022. The award winners from 2020, 2021 and 2022 were all honored at the same ceremony due to COVID-related postponements.
In his long career in clinical research, Dr. Alter has played a key role in the discovery of two hepatitis viruses, namely hepatitis B virus (HBV) and the non-A, non-B virus (NANB), later designated the hepatitis C virus (HCV). In long-term prospective studies, Dr. Alter helped define the natural history of NANB/HCV infection and proved its frequent progression to chronic hepatitis and its evolution to cirrhosis and liver-related mortality.
Dr. Alter was principal investigator in sequential prospective studies of transfusion-associated hepatitis (TAH) that were instrumental in influencing national blood policy and documented the progressive decline of TAH incidence from 33 percent in the 1960s to near zero in 1997. Millions of cases of TAH have been prevented through interventions documented in these studies.
For these studies, Dr. Alter has been awarded the Public Health Service Distinguished Service Medal, the Association for the Advancement of Blood and Biotherapies Landsteiner Prize, the First International Medal for Sciencefrom France’s public health and research organization called INSERM, the American College of Physicians Award for Outstanding Work in Science and the Distinguished Achievement Award of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.
For his cumulative research accomplishments, Dr. Alter was elected to fellowship in the American Association of Physicians and received the prestigious Clinical Lasker Awardand the Canada Gairdner International Award.He was elected to both the National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Medicine.