Michael Houghton (scientist)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Michael Houghton
Prof Michael Houghton.jpg
Fields Microbiology
Institutions University of Alberta
Chiron Corporation
Alma mater University of East Anglia (BSc)
King's College London (PhD)
Thesis RNA Polymerases and Transcription in the Chicken Oviduct (1977)
Known for Hepatitis C
Hepatitis D
Notable awards Robert Koch Prize (1993)
Lasker Award (2000)
Gairdner Foundation International Award (2013 - declined)
Michael Houghton, PhD

Michael Houghton is a British scientist, who along with Qui-Lim Choo, George Kuo and Daniel W. Bradley, co-discovered Hepatitis C in 1989.[1] He also co-discovered the Hepatitis D genome in 1986.[2] The discovery of Hepatitis C led to the rapid development of diagnostic reagents to detect HCV in blood supplies which has reduced the risk of acquiring HCV through blood transfusion from one in three to about one in two million.[3][4] It is estimated that antibody testing has prevented at least 40,000 new infections per year in the US alone and many more worldwide.[5] Houghton is currently Li Ka Shing Professor of Virology, Canada Excellence Research Chair in Virology, Director of the Li Ka Shing Applied Virology Institute, and Professor in the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Alberta.[6]


Houghton graduated from the University of East Anglia with a degree in biological sciences in 1972 and subsequently completed his PhD in biochemistry at King's College London in 1977.[7]


Houghton joined G. D. Searle & Company before moving to Chiron Corporation in 1982. It was at Chiron that Houghton together with colleagues Qui-Lim Choo and George Kuo, and D.W. Bradley from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, first discovered Hepatitis C.[8]

Houghton was co-author of a series of seminal studies published in 1989 and 1990 that identified hepatitis C antibodies in blood, particularly among patients at higher risk of contracting the disease, including those who had received blood transfusions.[9][10][11][12] This work led to the development of a blood screening test in 1990; widespread blood screening that began in 1992 with the development of a more sensitive test has since virtually eliminated hepatitis C contamination of donated blood supplies in Canada.[13][14] In other studies published during the same period, Houghton and collaborators linked hepatitis C with liver cancer.[15][16][17]

In 2013, Houghton's team at the University of Alberta showed that a vaccine derived from a single strain of Hepatitis C was effective against all strains of the virus.[18][19] The vaccine is currently in clinical trials.

Houghton holds 73 U.S. patents related to his research; a further seven patents are pending.


He was awarded the Karl Landsteiner Award in 1992, Robert Koch Prize in 1993, William Beaumont Prize in 1994, Beatrice Bitiello Award in 1994, International Hepatitis Foundation Award in 1998, Hans Popper Award in 1999, Lasker Award in 2000, Dale Smith Memorial Award in 2005 and the Hepdart Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009. In 2013 he became the first person to decline the $100,000 Gairdner Foundation International Award stating "I felt that it would be unfair of me to accept this award without the inclusion of two colleagues, Dr. Qui-Lim Choo and Dr. George Kuo."[20][21]


  1. ^ Choo QL, Kuo G, Weiner AJ, Overby LR, Bradley DW, Houghton M (April 1989). "Isolation of a cDNA clone derived from a blood-borne non-A, non-B viral hepatitis genome". Science. 244 (4902): 359–62. doi:10.1126/science.2523562. PMID 2523562. 
  2. ^ Wang, KS; Choo, QL; Weiner, AJ; Ou, JH; Najarian, RC; Thayer, RM; Mullenbach, GT; Denniston, KJ; Gerin, JL; Houghton, M (9 October 1986). "Structure, sequence and expression of the hepatitis delta (delta) viral genome". Nature. 323 (6088): 508–14. doi:10.1038/323508a0. PMID 3762705. 
  3. ^ "Opinion: Nobel-worthy discovery right in our backyard". Canadian for Health Research. Retrieved 4 September 2016. 
  4. ^ "Science world abuzz as virologist turns down Gairdner award". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 10 September 2016. 
  5. ^ Thompson, Gilbert (2014). Pioneers of Medicine Without a Nobel Prize. p. 209. 
  6. ^ "MMI Faculty - Michael Houghton, PhD". Retrieved 13 January 2014. 
  7. ^ Liver Cirrhosis and Its Development - Google Books. books.google.co.uk. Retrieved 2014-01-12. 
  8. ^ Houghton, M (2009). "The long and winding road leading to the identification of the hepatitis C virus.". J. Hepatol. (51): 939–948. 
  9. ^ Kuo, G; Choo, Q-L; Alter, HJ; Gitnick, GI; Redeker, AG; Purcell, RH; Miyamura, T; Dienstag, JL; Alter, MJ; Stevens, CE; Tegtmeier, GE; Bonino, F; Colombo, M; Lee, W-S; Kuo, C; Berger, K; Shuster, JR; Overby, LR; Bradley, DW; Houghton, M (1989). "An assay for circulating antibodies to a major etiologic virus of human non-A, non-B hepatitis.". Science (244): 362–364. 
  10. ^ Esteban, JI; Viladomiu, L; Bonzalez, A; Roget, M; Genesca, J; Guardia, J; Esteban, R; Lopez-Talavera, JC; Hernandez, JM; Vargas, V; Buti, M; Kuo, G; Choo, Q-L; Houghton, M (1989). "Hepatitis C virus antibodies among risk groups in Spain.". Lancet (334): 294–297. 
  11. ^ Van Der Poel, CL; Ressink, HW; Lelie, PN; Leentvaar-Kuypers, A; Choo, Q-L; Kuo, G; Houghton, M (1989). "Anti-hepatitis C antibodies and non-A, non-B post-transfusion hepatitis in the Netherlands.". Lancet (334): 297–298. 
  12. ^ Alter, HJ; Purcell, RH; Shih, JW; Melpolder, JC; Houghton, M; Choo, Q-L; Kuo, G (1989). "Detection of antibody to hepatitis C virus in prospectively followed transfusion recipients with acute and chronic non-A, non-B hepatitis.". N. Engl. J. Med. (321): 1494–1500. 
  13. ^ Cha, T-A; Kolberg, J; Irvine, B; Stempien, M; Beall, E; Yano, M; Choo, Q-L; Houghton, M; Kuo, G; Han, JH; Urdea, MS (1991). "Use of a signature nucleotide sequence of hepatitis C virus for detection of viral RNA in human serum and plasma.". J. Clin. Microbiol. (29): 2528–2534. 
  14. ^ Bresters, D; Cuypers, HT; Reesink, HW; Schaasberg, WP; van der Poel, CL; Mauser-Bunschoten, EP; Houghton, M; Choo, Q-L; Kuo, G; Lesniewski, R; Troonen, H; Lelie, PN (1992). "Enhanced sensitivity of a second generation ELISA for antibody to hepatitis C virus.". Vox Sang. (62): 213–217. 
  15. ^ Hasan, F; Jeffers, L; de Medina, M; Reddy, R; Parker, T; Schiff, E; Houghton, M; Choo, Q-L; Kuo, G (1989). "Hepatitis C HCV associated hepatocellular carcinoma.". Hepatology (10): 580. 
  16. ^ De Bisceglie, AM; Alter, H; Kuo, G; Houghton, M; Hoofnagle, JH (1989). "Detection of antibody to hepatitis C virus in patients with various chronic liver diseases.". Hepatology (10): 581. 
  17. ^ Saito, I; Miyamura, T; Ohbayashi, A; Harada, H; Katayama, T; Kikuchi, S; Watanabe, Y; Koi, S; Onji, M; Ohta, Y; Choo, Q-L; Houghton, M; Kuo, G (1990). "Hepatitis C virus infection is associated with the development of hepatocellular carcinoma.". Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA (87): 6547–6549. 
  18. ^ Law, JL; Chen, C; Wong, J; Hockman, D; Santer, DM; Frey, SE; Belshe, RB; Wakita, T; Bukh, J; Jones, CT; Rice, CM; Abrignani, S; Tyrrell, DL; Houghton, M. (March 19, 2013). "A hepatitis C virus (HCV) vaccine comprising envelope glycoproteins gpE1/gpE2 derived from a single isolate elicits broad cross-genotype neutralizing antibodies in humans.". PLOS ONE. 8 (3): e59776. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0059776. PMC 3602185free to read. PMID 23527266. 
  19. ^ Houghton, M; Law, J; Tyrrell, DL (2013). "An inactivated hepatitis C virus vaccine on the horizon?". Gastroenterology (145): 285–288. 
  20. ^ "World-renowned virologist named recipient of Gairdner Award". March 22, 2013. Retrieved 13 January 2014. 
  21. ^ Boesveld, Sarah (20 March 2013). "Edmonton scientist turns down $100,000 'baby Nobel' because it shut out colleagues". Retrieved 13 January 2014.