Launch of a New Webinar Series: "Moving from Hepatitis Discovery to Elimination: NIH Research Advancing Hepatitis"
Last year, Dr. Harvey Alter, NIH researcher, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology for his contributions to the discovery of HCV, exemplifying the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) involvement in the fight against HCV.
Dr. Harvey Alter’s long career at the NIH delved into the occurrence of hepatitis in patients who had previously received blood transfusions. After finding patients who developed chronic hepatitis due to an unknown agent, Alter’s research studies characterized a new, distinct form of chronic viral hepatitis, which became known as “non-A, non-B” hepatitis— now hepatitis C. His work was integral to establishing the scientific basis for initiating screenings of blood donor banks, largely reducing the incidence of transfusion-transmitted hepatitis. Scientific research over the years conducted at the NIH has largely impacted programmatic advances related to hepatitis.
Over the last 60 years, NIH-supported investigators like Harvey Alter have been involved in a variety of scientific breakthroughs associated with hepatitis. However, due to their greater burden, the greatest emphasis is placed on the immune response to infection, pathogenesis, and development of new therapeutics and vaccines for hepatitis B and C. Recently, researchers completed a Phase 1/2 clinical trial of an HCV vaccine to evaluate its safety, tolerability, and efficacy in preventing chronic hepatitis C infection. While the vaccine was shown to not be effective, the NIH and NIAID continue to fund additional HCV vaccine candidates and also look for biomarkers that may help predict progression to hepatitis C-associated liver cancer. In 2019, the NIH released The Strategic Plan for Trans-NIH Research to Cure Hepatitis B for Development of Improved HBV Therapies.
The NIH’s ongoing research portfolio complements the release of the first viral hepatitis elimination plan in the United States. The Viral Hepatitis National Strategic Plan for the United States: A Roadmap to Elimination (2021–2025), otherwise known as the Hepatitis Plan, outlines a comprehensive framework for national, state, and local, governmental, and nongovernmental stakeholders to eliminate viral hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030.
With the launch of the United States’ first hepatitis elimination plan and only 10 years to go to reach global elimination goals, now is the time to bring together the research and implementing strategies to improve hepatitis prevention, testing, and treatment. To facilitate these discussions, NIH and the Coalition for Global Hepatitis Elimination are launching a new webinar series, "Moving from Hepatitis Discovery to Elimination: NIH Research Advancing Hepatitis Elimination." The objectives of the series are to highlight ongoing research that can benefit elimination efforts, support translation of research into implementation, and identify additional research needs.
The first webinar, "The Road to Elimination and the Role of NIH" will set the stage on the status of hepatitis elimination efforts globally and in the United States and will introduce hepatitis-related research activities across the NIH institutes.
Special introductory remarks will be made by Dr. Harvey Alter, 2020 Nobel Prize Laureate.
Additional presentations and remarks will be made by:
Dr. Doug Lowy, Principal Deputy Director, National Cancer Institute, NIH
Dr. John Ward, Director, Coalition for Global Hepatitis Elimination, Task Force for Global Health
Dr. Carolyn Wester, Director, Division of Viral Hepatitis, US CDC
Dr. Judith Steinberg, Chief Medical Officer, Office for Infectious Disease and HIV/AIDS Policy, US Department of Health and Human Services
Dr. Jessica Deerin, Epidemiologist, Office for Infectious Disease and HIV/AIDS Policy, US Department of Health and Human Services
The virtual kick-off webinar will take place Thursday, March 4th, 3-4:30 pm. Register here.