Two scientists whose work helped virtually eliminate the risk of transmitting hepatitis viruses through blood transfusions were among six winners of this year's Albert Lasker medical research awards being announced today.
The two are Dr. Harvey Alter of the National Institutes of Health and Dr. Michael Houghton of the Chiron Corp. in Emeryville, Calif. Alter leads a project that NIH created many years ago to discover the causes of hepatitis that followed transfusions. Houghton led a team that discovered the hepatitis C virus in 1989.
The winner of a special achievement award is Dr. Sydney Brenner of the Molecular Sciences Institute in Berkeley, Calif., who was honored for his creativity and for discoveries that opened research in the genetic code and several other major fields over the past 50 years.
The Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation said it also was honoring Brenner for his rational voice in allaying fears that research on genetic engineering would create dangerous breeds of microbes, and for his role in ending a moratorium on such research in 1974.