Robert Purcell (virologist)

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Robert H. Purcell (born 19 December 1935) is a virologist who, together with Stephen Feinstone and Albert Kapikian, co-identified the Hepatitis A virus (HAV) in 1973.[1]

He obtained a bachelor's degree in Chemistry from the University of Oklahoma in 1957, a master's degree in biochemistry from Baylor University in 1960 and his MD from Duke University in 1962.[2] The same team who co-identified the Hepatitis A virus (HAV) developed the first assays that could measure the virus antigen and antibody, and using those assays, the group along with Harvey J. Alter demonstrated through the serologic exclusion of Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B that a third, previously unrecognised form of viral hepatitis existed, originally named non-A, non-B hepatitis (NANBH). Michael Houghton's laboratory at Chiron Corporation ultimately identified the agent associated with NANBH, now known as Hepatitis C, in 1989.[3]

He was awarded the Gorgas Medal in 1977 and the King Faisal International Prize in 1998.


  1. ^ Feinstone, Stephen M.; Kapikian, Albert Z.; Purcell, Robert H. (1973). "Hepatitis A: Detection by Immune Electron Microscopy of a Viruslike Antigen Associated with Acute Illness". Science. 182 (4116): 1026–1028. doi:10.1126/science.182.4116.1026.
  2. ^ "Professor Robert H. Purcell". King Faisal International Prize. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
  3. ^ 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. CiteSeerX doi:10.1126/science.2523562. PMID 2523562.