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Prof. Harvey J Alter

International Awards

Grand Hamdan International Award - Gastroenterology

Personal Details/Academic Background:

Professor Harvey Alter is a highly distinguished medical scientist from USA, who achieved worldwide recognition for his research in the context of discovering Hepatitis C virus. He is the chief of infectious diseases section and the associate director for research, Department of Transfusion Medicine, Clinical Center, at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as well as the Distinguished NIH Investigator.

Professor Alter was born in 1935, he earned his medical degree at the University of Rochester, NY, and completed his postgraduate training in Medicine at Strong Memorial Hospital, Rochester and within the University of Washington Hospital system in Seattle. Afterwards, he became a clinical associate at NIH. He then spent several years with Georgetown University, returning to NIH in 1969 to join the Clinical Center's Department of Transfusion Medicine as a senior investigator. As well as holding a faculty position at Clinical Research Training Program at the NIH, he is an Adjunct Professor at Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research in San Antonio, TX and the clinical Professor of Medicine in Georgetown University Hospital, Washington.

Professor Alter was elected as Master of the American College of Physicians, the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine. He is certified by the American Board of Pathology and he is a fellow of the American College of Physicians, the American Society of Internal Medicine and the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.

Being an expert in the field of blood-borne infectious diseases, he was elected for the membership of numerous scientific advisory boards that are working in this field, examples include; Blood Centers of the Pacific, International Society of Blood transfusion, the Scientific Advisory Board of Hepatitis B Foundation and many other societies formed by prestigious establishments such as NIH, University of California, and FDA.

Research and achievements:

Professor Alter is a very proliferative researcher with significant participation in over 380 publications in peer-reviewed international journals. For that, he was specifically invited to be a key speaker at numerous conferences all over the globe.

The immense importance of professor Alter’s work stems from the major medical advances achieved as a consequence of his research in virology, specifically the development of serologic assays that protect blood supplies worldwide. The above-mentioned work led to uncovering the determinants of viral clearance, persistence and disease pathogenesis using the tools of molecular biology and immunology. 

The following points provide the highlights of past and current research achievements of professor Alter who was:      

  1. Coinvestigator in the discovery of the Australia antigen and principal investigator in the first study to biophysically characterize that antigen.  
  2. Principal investigator in prospective studies that identified the clinical entity non-A, non-B (NANB) hepatitis /HCV
  3. First to prove NANB was a transmissible agent and to establish the chimpanzee model for study of this disease.
  4. Coinvestigator in identifying the natural history of NANB/HCV infection and linking it to chronic hepatitis and cirrhosis.
  5. The first investigator to transmit HIV to the chimpanzee and to establish an animal model for this infection om which he demonstrated nucleic acid screening for HIV.
  6. The first to establish HCV as the major cause of transfusion-associated hepatitis and prove the clinical efficacy of anti-HCV screening assays.   
  7. Collaborator in a series of human and chimpanzee studies that defined the size, buoyant density and infectivity titer of the NANB/HCV agent. Similarly, he participated in studies that defined replication characteristics and mutation rates, as well as neutralizing antibody responses for HCV.   
  8. Principal investigator of a multi-center study of p24 antigen screening. The latter study served as the primary scientific basis for national decisions regarding implementation of p24 antigen screening of donors.        

Awards and recognition:

For his outstanding research accomplishments, professor Alter received more than thirty exceptional Awards. The following are some of the awards that were bestowed upon professor Alter:

  1. In 2004, he was the recipient of the American College of Physicians Award for Outstanding Work in Science as Related to Medicine, the highest scientific award conferred by The College.
  2. Appointed NIH Distinguished Investigator 2008 (only 23 intramural scientists so designated).
  3. Distinguished Scientist Award from the Hepatitis B Foundation and the Scientific Achievement Award from the Hepatitis Foundation International.
  4. The DHEW Superior Service Award and Distinguished Service Medal:  the highest award conferred to persons in the public health service.
  5. Professor Alter was the first recipient of the International Award for Science conferred by INSERM, the French equivalent of NIH in 2004.
  6. Karl Landsteiner Award (highest scientific award of the American Association of Blood Banks) in 1992.
  7. Distinguished Achievement Award, AASLD (American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases) in 2011.
  8. Canada Gairdner International Award in 2013.
  9. Fries Prize for improving health, CDC in 2015.
  10. He has been internationally honored as recipient of the Stanley Davidson Lectureship of the Royal College of Physicians Scotland.
  11. The James Blundell Award of the British Blood Transfusion Society.

In recognition of his outstanding contributions to the field of gastroenterology, professor Harvey James Alter is awarded the GRAND HAMDAN INTERNATIONAL AWARD for the Term 2015-2016.