IDWeek 2021 Closing Plenary

The IDWeek 2021 Closing Plenary was presented by both Harvey J. Alter, MD, Distinguished NIH Scholar, NIH and Anne Schuchat, MD, Former Principal Deputy Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dr.Alter’s lecture, titled “Hepatitis C: The End of the Beginning and Possibly the Beginning of the End” focuses the history of Hepatitis C and the current status of Hepatis C treatment and vaccine development. Dr. Schuchat’s lecture, titled “Learning from Epidemics: A Long and Winding Road” focuses on how various epidemics throughout history have influenced current pandemic response.


Harvey J. Alter, MD

Distinguished NIH Scholar, National Institutes of Health

Hepatitis C: The End of the Beginning and Possibly the Beginning of the End

Harvey J. Alter, has been designated a Distinguished NIH Investigator, only one of 23 NIH scientists to hold that distinction. In his long career in clinical research, Dr. Alter has played a key role in the discovery of two hepatitis viruses, namely hepatitis B virus (HBV) and the non-A, non-B virus, later designated the hepatitis C virus (HCV). In long-term prospective studies, Alter helped define the natural history of NANB/HCV infection and proved its frequent progression to chronic hepatitis and its evolution to cirrhosis and liver related mortality.

Dr. Alter was principal investigator in sequential prospective studies of transfusion-associated hepatitis (TAH) that were instrumental in influencing national blood policy and documented the progressive decline of TAH incidence from 33% in the 1960s to near zero in 1997. Millions of cases of TAH have been prevented through interventions documented in these studies.

For these studies, Dr. Alter has been awarded the PHS Distinguished Service Medal, the AABB Landsteiner Prize, the First International Medal for Science from France’s INSERM, the American College of Physicians (ACP) Award for Outstanding Work in Science, and the Distinguished Achievement Award of AASLD.

For his cumulative research accomplishments, Dr. Alter was elected to fellowship in the American Association of Physicians and received the prestigious Clinical Lasker Award and the Canada Gairdner International Award. He was elected to both the National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Medicine and achieved Master status in the ACP. In 2020, Alter was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine.


Anne Schuchat, MD

Former Principal Deputy Director Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Learning from Epidemics: A Long and Winding Road

Anne Schuchat, MD is an internist and epidemiologist whose career at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spanned 33 years. She was the agency’s Principal Deputy Director from 2015-2021 and served twice as acting CDC director. From 2006-2015, she was the first Director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), leading the nation’s immunization program through recommendations for several new vaccines and the global deployment of vaccines against pneumonia and meningitis. Prior to becoming NCIRD director, Dr. Schuchat was Chief of the Respiratory Diseases Branch from 1998-2005. She first joined CDC as an Epidemic Intelligence Service officer in 1988. She’s been instrumental in decades of CDC emergency responses including the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2019 outbreak of vaping associated lung injuries, the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic, and the 2003 SARS outbreak where she deployed to Beijing. She collaborated on meningitis, pneumonia, and Ebola vaccine trials in West Africa and surveillance and prevention projects in South Africa. In the 1990’s, Dr. Schuchat spearheaded the effort to establish guidelines for the prevention of newborn infections from group B streptococcus, saving an estimated 100,000 newborn lives so far. Her contributions have been recognized by election to the National Academy of Medicine, receipt of the USPHS Distinguished Service Medal, and the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials Lifetime Achievement Award and as a finalist for the Paul A. Volcker Career Achievement Medal from the Partnership for Public Service. Dr. Schuchat retired as a Rear Admiral in the Commissioned Corps of the United States Public Health Service in 2018 and from the CDC in 2021.

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