University of Alberta virologist awarded Nobel Prize

Michael Houghton wins Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine along with Harvey J. Alter and Charles M. Rice for the discovery of the hepatitis C virus (HCV).

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An Evening with Nobel Laureate Michael Houghton

Wednesday, December 9 at 7 p.m. MST

Join President Bill Flanagan and Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry Dean Brenda Hemmelgarn in celebrating and honouring Dr. Houghton.

Event details

Nobel Week 2020 Streams

The Nobel Foundation will be streaming the laureates' Nobel Lectures, the Nobel Prize Award Ceremonies and more throughout the week of December 7—11.

Monday, December 7 at 5:00 a.m. MST

Nobel Lectures in Physiology or Medicine with Michael Houghton, Harvey J. Alter and Charles M. Rice

Thursday, December 10 at 8:30 a.m. MST

Nobel Prize Award Ceremony

See all streams


Nobel Lecture: Michael Houghton, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2020

Michael Houghton delivered his Nobel Lecture on 7 December 2020. He was introduced by Professor Maria Masucci.


How to build an ‘it’ team to take on the world’s deadliest viruses

It’s no accident that the University of Alberta is home to so many top virologists.

Li Ka Shing Centre for Health Research Innovation in the evening

Going Viral

A timeline of milestones and discoveries showing how the U of A built a Canadian centre of excellence in virology research


Passion and Perseverance: What a Trainee Learned from Nobel Prize-Winner Michael Houghton

Houghton attributes his success to teamwork, to following his passion for solving disease, and persistence. To me, the main lesson I took away from his talk is: follow your passion and persevere, you are on the right path!


A Student’s Reflections on Michael Houghton’s 2020 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

"Having interned in a virology research group only one building away from Dr. Michael Houghton’s office on the seventh floor of the Li Ka Shing Centre for Health Research Innovation, I have a first-hand understanding of the passion and commitment needed to excel in academic research."


U of A Nobel winner’s impact extends from personal to global

Michael Houghton’s colleagues and trainees describe the determination that led him to discover the hepatitis C virus and continue his quest for vaccines that will save millions of lives.


COVID-19 has ‘created a new paradigm for developing vaccines,’ says U of A Nobel winner

A vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 is essential—and thanks to scientific advances and global will, it will likely come faster than any previous vaccine, according to virologist Michael Houghton.


Michael Houghton reacts to receiving Nobel Prize

U of A virologist Michael Houghton explains the only thing that could best receiving a Nobel Prize.


How the U of A's Li Ka Shing Institute of Virology is responding to the COVID-19 crisis

Institute was designed for rapid response to viral pandemic.


In 1989, Michael Houghton discovered the virus now known as hepatitis C with his colleagues Qui-Lim Choo and George Kuo. Because of their discovery, new screening tests were developed for blood donations, and by 1992, the virus was virtually eliminated from blood supplies. By 1996, this screening led to an annual reduction in new hep C infections by more than 80 per cent.

The hepatitis C virus is very virulent. It can lead to cirrhosis, end-stage liver disease, and liver cancer for people who carry the virus. To prevent the spread of hepatitis C, the world urgently needs a vaccine. In 2012, Houghton and his team here at the University of Alberta developed a vaccine that is now in late pre-clinical stage testing. Based on the discovery of the virus, antiviral therapies have also been developed that will cure 95 per cent of carriers. This is the first chronic viral illness that can be cured.

Since the outbreak, Dr. Houghton is leading an effort to produce a COVID-19 vaccine. He was successful in creating a vaccine for SARS-CoV-1 in 2004; however, this vaccine was never needed as the original SARS disappeared.

Dr. Houghton was appointed a full professor in the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology in the U of A Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry on June 1, 2010. His lab is in the Li Ka Shing Institute of Virology, which was created in 2010 through a gift of $25 million from the Li Ka Shing (Canada) Foundation as well as a commitment of $52.5 million from the Government of Alberta.

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