Nobel Prize Medicine winners 2020
October 5, 2020 - Americans Harvey Alter and Charles Rice, and British scientist Michael Houghton were awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine or Physiology for the discovery of the hepatitis C virus, a major source of liver disease that affects millions worldwide.
Announcing the prize in Stockholm, the Nobel Committee noted that the trio's work helped explain a major source of blood-borne hepatitis that couldn't be explained by the previously discovered hepatitis A and B viruses. Their work, dating back to the 1970s and 1980s, has helped saved millions of lives, the committee said.
The World Health Organization estimates there are over 70 million cases of hepatitis worldwide and 400,000 deaths each year. The disease is chronic and a major cause of liver inflammation and cancer.
The medicine prize carried particular significance this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has highlighted the importance that medical research has for societies and economies around the world.