Canada Excellence Research Chair Laureate wins Nobel Prize

Members of the Canada Research Coordinating Committee (CRCC) wish to recognize Dr. Michael Houghton on being jointly awarded (along with fellow researchers Dr. Harvey Alter and Dr. Charles Rice) the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their discovery of the hepatitis C virus.

Director of the Li Ka Shing Applied Virology Institute and professor in the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Alberta, Dr. Houghton was appointed a Canada Excellence Research Chair (CERC) in virology in 2010 – a prestigious award that seeks to attract world-renowned researchers to Canada.  In 1989, along with co-investigators Dr. Qui-Lim Choo and Dr. George Kuo of the former Chiron Corporation (now part of the biopharmaceutical company Novartis), Dr. Houghton discovered the hepatitis C virus and developed tests enabling the detection of hepatitis C in blood samples, which by 1996, led to a reduction in annual reported transmission by over 80 per cent. His subsequent research has led to the development of a candidate vaccine for hepatitis C, now in the late pre-clinical stage of testing.  

In addition to his CERC, Dr. Houghton has also received research funding support from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and has benefitted from research infrastructure funded by the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI). His work on hepatitis C has been recognized with numerous awards, including the Lasker and Karl Landsteiner awards from the USA, the Robert Koch Medal from Germany, the Gold Medal from the Canadian Liver Disease Association, and selection for the Canada Gairdner International Award. Most recently, Dr. Houghton and Dr. Lorne Tyrrell, founder and director of the Li Ka Shing Institute of Virology, have been working on the front lines of Canada’s research response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On behalf of the CRCC and the Canadian research community, we offer our congratulations to Dr. Houghton and wish him continued success in all his endeavours.

Alejandro Adem
President, NSERC

Ted Hewitt
President, SSHRC

Simon Kennedy
Deputy Minister, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

Stephen Lucas
Deputy Minister, Health Canada

Mona Nemer
Chief Science Advisor of Canada

Roseann O’Reilly Runte
President, CFI

Roger Scott-Douglas
A/President, NRC

Michael Strong
President, CIHR

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