AVI Team

Portrait of Houghton


The Li Ka Shing Applied Virology Institute is led by world-renowned scientist and Nobel laureate, Dr. Michael Houghton. Dr. Houghton is an international leader in viral hepatitis. In 1989, his USA laboratory & collaborators identified the hepatitis C virus (HCV). Successively, he then developed blood tests that have since prevented millions of infections from tainted blood donations around the world. He also has over 40 years of experience in major pharmaceutical companies (Searle, Chiron, Novartis). His work at Chiron Corporation was largely responsible for its growth into the 3rd largest USA biotech in the 1990s, ultimately being acquired by Novartis in 2005.

Along with Dr. Lorne Tyrrell and a team of experts, Dr. Houghton is developing a vaccine against hepatitis C (HCV) through the optimization of both the production of cross-neutralizing antibodies and cross-reactive immune responses to the different HCV genotypes found amongst the human population worldwide. Clinical trials are expected to begin in mid 2023.

Dr. Houghton has authored more than 300 research publications and over 70 patents. He has received numerous international prizes for his scientific contributions, including the International Canada Gairdner Award (2013-declined), the Clinical Lasker Award (2000), the Robert Koch Medal (1993) and the Canadian CLF-CASL gold medal (2012). His passion is the application of biomedical research to prevent disease.

In 2020, Dr. Houghton, Dr. Charlie Rice (Rockefeller University), and Dr. Harvey Alter (NIH) won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.  This is only the second Nobel Prize in this category (Physiology or Medicine) to be awarded to a professor in a Canadian university in almost 100 years; the first being Banting and MacLeod in 1923 for the discoery of insulin.  This is also the University of Alberta's first Nobel Prize.

Visit Dr. Houghton's UAlberta Profile Page.

Michael Houghton recounts his discovery of the hepatitis C virus