A lesson in persistence for all of us from University of Alberta Nobel Prize winner Michael Houghton

Dr. Michael Houghton has made some important discoveries in his life, the hepatitis C virus being, perhaps, only the most famous. 

Houghton, a virologist at the University Alberta, and fellow researchers Harvey Alter and Charles Rice made the hep C discovery in 1989 after a seven-year odyssey.

Next month, Houghton, Alter and Rice will accept the Nobel Prize in Medicine for the discovery. 

It is the first Nobel Prize for a University of Alberta professor.

Houghton and his team at the U of A’s Li Ka Shing Institute of Applied Virology have developed a vaccine for hepatitis C that is now in pre-clinical testing. The team is also leading an effort to produce a vaccine for COVID-19. 


Houghton has made other discoveries along the way, persistence being, perhaps, the most valuable. 

Last week,  Dr. Houghton spoke via video at Fall Convocation at the University of Alberta. 

It was a 3-minute, 54-second mini-lecture on, among other things, persistence. 

“Become like water flowing down a mountain side,” Houghton told graduates. “When one channel becomes blocked, find another one to reach your destination.’

Here’s Houghton

Here it is, with a bit of background off the top. 

Thank you, Dr. Houghton, and congratulations to the graduating Class of 2020.

Editor’s note: the pic of Dr. Michael Houghton at the top of the post is courtesy Michael Holly. Updated December 7, 2020: On December 9, 2020, the day before Houghton virtually receives the Nobel Prize in Medicine, The City of Edmonton will light the High Level Bridge in his honour. This updates original information that the bridge lighting was scheduled for December 10. Read more about Houghton and his team’s persistence and scientific achievements.