A University of Alberta researcher known for his crucial role in identifying the virus that causes Hepatitis C has been awarded this year’s Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

Michael Houghton, director of the university’s Li Ka Shing Applied Virology Institute in Edmonton, was named a co-recipient of the prize together with two U.S. scientists, Harvey J. Alter and Charles M. Rice.

Each of the three men will receive an equal share of the $1.2-million prize for their part in a discovery that is credited with preventing millions of infections, by making it possible to screen for the virus in human blood and blood products.

“It’s hard to find something that’s of such a benefit to mankind as we’re awarding this year,” said Thomas Perlmann, secretary of the Nobel Committee, after announcing the prize on Monday in Stockholm, Sweden.

Dr. Houghton was born in the U.K. and completed his PhD in biochemistry at King’s College London in 1977. In 1982, he moved to the California-based Chiron Corporation, now part of the biopharmaceutical company Novartis, where he conducted his Nobel-winning research.

He came to the University of Alberta in 2010 as one of the inaugural holders of a Canada Excellence Research Chair. The seven-year position was part of an effort at the time to draw top science talent to Canada. Since then, Dr. Houghton has been affiliated with the university and its virology institute.

The Globe and Mail, October 5, 2020