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Baruch S. Blumberg Prize for Outstanding Contributions to Hepatitis B Research

T. Jake Liang, MD

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 the 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.”

“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.

T. Jake Liang, MD

Community Leadership Award

Catharine and Rob Williams

Catharine and Rob Williams, who reside in Strafford, Pa., have been chosen to receive the Foundation’s Community Leadership Award for 2024. They will be honored on April 5 at the organization’s Annual Gala.

A member of the Foundation’s Board of Directors since 2008, Catharine has served for many years on the executive committee and chairs the development committee, and Rob has been an active partner in their work.

Hepatitis B Foundation President Chari A. Cohen, DrPH, MPH, said: “Catharine and Rob truly embody this award. They have opened their hearts and their home to the Hepatitis B Foundation. They have helped other families by sharing their own experiences at B Informed patient conferences, and helped the Foundation improve its programming geared towards families impacted by hepatitis B. And Catharine has dedicated countless hours to thinking of new, innovative ways to help the Hepatitis B Foundation and Baruch S. Blumberg Institute further their missions.”

The Williamses were the initial inspiration and supporters of the #justB storytelling initiative, Dr. Cohen said, which created a global movement of people sharing their experiences living with hepatitis B. Catharine and Rob contributed the seed funding for the Foundation’s first three Storyteller videos, setting the stage for this outstanding program, which now has more than 80 storytellers from six countries.

“Hepatitis B should not derail anyone’s life,” Catharine said. “The Hepatitis B Foundation and the Blumberg Institute are improving the outcomes for people living with the disease. They are the change agents for this disease.”

Beyond the Foundation, Catharine enjoyed a long career in economic development and Rob worked in aerospace engineering.

The Hepatitis B Foundation’s Community Leadership Award recognizes individuals or organizations that have made significant contributions to communities highly impacted by hepatitis B, hepatitis D and liver cancer. Awardees also demonstrate additional commitment to community service outside of the hepatitis B space.

The Williamses will receive the Community Leadership Award at the 2024 Hepatitis B Foundation’s Annual Gala on Friday, April 5, in Warrington. The event attracts more than 250 leaders from academia, government, business and the regional community every year. Details will be posted early in 2024 on www.hepbgala.org.

Previous recipients are valued advocates including #justB storytellers, dedicated philanthropists and valued advisors to the Foundation: Rev. Jason Crum Escalera, Susana Guigere, Paula Wong, Fred Beans, Marvin and Dee Ann Woodall, Ren Capocasale, Bruce and Cynthia Maryanoff, Jim and Teri Holton, Debbie Wagner, Bridget Wingert and Brad Segall.

See the full list of previous award winners here.

Rob and Catharine Williams

Gala Speakers

We are pleased to announce this year's speakers and honorees. Each of these distinguished individuals dedicates themselves to our common pursuit of working to help promote the cause of Hepatitis B support and prevention. Their wealth of knowledge and experience is pivotal to our continued success in the fight for people suffering from this disease. We are grateful for their commitment and they are excited to share in this anniversary celebration.

Chari Cohen, DrPH, MPH

Chari Cohen, DrPH, MPH

President, Hepatitis B Foundation


Timothy M. Block, PhD

Timothy M. Block, PhD

Co-Founder, Hepatitis B Foundation
Executive Chair, Hepatitis B Foundation Board of Directors

Joseph Erckert, MA

Joseph Erckert, MA

Chief Development Officer, Hepatitis B Foundation

Randall N. Hyer, MD, PhD, MPH

Randall N. Hyer, MD, PhD, MPH

President, Baruch S, Blumberg Institute 

Louis P. Kassa, MPA

Louis P. Kassa, MPA

President of the Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center (PABC)
Chief Executive Officer of the PABC, Baruch S. Blumberg Institute and Hepatitis B Foundation 

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