2005 ADLM Lectureship Award
Harvey J. Alter, MD, MACP, is chief of the infectious disease section and associate director for research of the Department of Transfusion Medicine, Warren Grant Magnuson Clinical Center at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. He is also clinical professor of medicine at Georgetown University in Washington, DC.
He has devoted most of his research career to the study of blood-transmitted infections, particularly viral hepatitis. He was the principal investigator in the first study to biophysically characterize the “Australia antigen”, which was later shown to be the envelope protein of the hepatitis B virus. He led the prospective studies that identified the clinical entity known as non-A, non-B hepatitis and the first to confirm that it was a transmissible agent. He was the principal investigator in sequential prospective studies of transfusion-associated hepatitis that influenced national blood policy mandating donor screening assays. Dr. Alter’s unique, long-term prospective studies identified transfusion risks as well as donor-screening measures to alleviate those risks, and then measured the outcome of these interventions. After the cloning of the hepatitis C virus (HCV), he conducted the key study that established HCV as the major cause of transfusion-associated hepatitis and demonstrated the clinical efficacy of anti-HCV screening assays. For his contributions to the discovery of the non-A, non-B/hepatitis C virus and for his vital role in reducing hepatitis risk and improving the safety of the blood supply, Dr. Alter has received many awards and other recognition.