NIH scientist conducting influential hepatitis research to receive 2024 Baruch S. Blumberg Prize
Dr. T. Jake Liang is chief of the Liver Diseases Branch in the
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).
Doylestown, Pa., Nov. 9, 2023 – The Hepatitis B Foundation today announced that T. Jake Liang, MD, a Distinguished Investigator at the National Institutes of Health and globally recognized expert on liver diseases, has been chosen to receive its 2024 Baruch S. Blumberg Prize.
“The community owes a tremendous debt of gratitude to Dr. Liang for his decades of contributions to the basic science advances and clinical care of those with chronic hepatitis B,” Hepatitis B Foundation President Chari A. Cohen, DrPH, MPH, said. “Not only is Jake an accomplished scientist, he’s a warmly regarded thought leader who has had tremendous influence across all aspects of our field.”
Timothy M. Block, PhD, co-founder and past president of the Hepatitis B Foundation, said: “Dr. Liang’s work as a scientist and clinician consistently has been at the forefront of almost every major advance in the care of people with hepatitis B and D for more than two decades. His early work on hepatitis B virus molecular biology described the unique ways in which the viral RNA was processed; his clinical work has helped advance new medicines.”
At the NIH, Dr. Liang is chief of the Liver Diseases Branch and Section Chief of the Liver Diseases Virology Section and the Clinical Research Section in the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).
“I am indeed thrilled and honored to receive this prestigious award from the Hepatitis B Foundation, which has been a staunch and tireless advocate to advance the science and medicine in hepatitis B research and to improve the health of those impacted by the infection,” Dr. Liang said. “To be recognized by such a highly respected organization is indeed the pinnacle of my career.”
Hepatitis B (HBV) and hepatitis C (HCV) infections affect more than 10 percent of the world population. They are the most common cause of liver disease including liver cancer—the fourth leading cause of cancer death.
In his research, Dr. Liang says, “Our first approach is to understand how interferons (proteins that are released in response to viruses) and other antivirals work in hepatitis virus infections. We explore the biological reasons that explain why some patients do not respond to treatment. Our second approach is to apply molecular, biochemical and functional genomic tools to identify and characterize interactions between the virus, viral gene products and the host. Third, we are interested in developing and evaluating new vaccines and antivirals by building and improving on currently available models.”
Dr. Liang earned a bachelor’s degree from Harvard College in 1980 and a medical degree from Harvard Medical School in 1984. He completed his residency at New York University and Bellevue Hospital in 1987 and worked on a Gastroenterology and Hepatology Fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School from 1987 to 1990. Dr. Liang is an Elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases and the American Gastroenterological Association. He is a member of the American Academy of Microbiology, National Academy of Medicine, Association of American Physicians and American Society for Clinical Investigation.
The Baruch S. Blumberg Prize is the Hepatitis B Foundation’s highest honor. It is named for Baruch S. Blumberg, MD, DPhil, who received the Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology in 1976 for discovering the hepatitis B virus. He was instrumental in the creation of the Foundation, served on our Scientific and Medical Advisory Board and was the Foundation’s Distinguished Scholar from 1992 until his death in 2011. The Foundation’s research arm was renamed the Baruch S. Blumberg Institute in his honor.
A committee of former Blumberg Prize recipients annually selects a new honoree. Past recipients include Dr. Harvey Alter, who was among the winners of the 2020 Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology; Dr. Anna Lok, assistant dean for clinical research, University of Michigan Medical School; and Prof. Stefan Urban, head of Translational Virology at Heidelberg University Hospital.
The Blumberg Prize will be presented to Dr. Liang at the 2024 Hepatitis B Foundation Gala, which will be held on April 5 at The Warrington in Warrington, Pa.