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Sir Peter Ratcliffe
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Sir Peter Ratcliffe, credit the University of Oxford

Nobel prize jointly awarded to UK scientist Sir Peter Ratcliffe

7 Oct 2019

Sir Peter Ratcliffe was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2019 today, jointly with William Kaelin Jr and Gregg Semenza, ‘for their discoveries of how cells sense and adapt to oxygen availability’.

Sir Peter is Director of Clinical Research at the Francis Crick Institute, funded by the Medical Research Council, and Director of the Target Discovery Institute at Oxford University. His research has received ongoing funding from the Medical Research Council and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

Much of Peter Ratcliffe’s key work in understanding how cells sense and adapt to the availability of oxygen was carried out in the MRC Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine at the University of Oxford.

Prof Sir Mark Walport, UK Research and Innovation Chief Executive, said: “Very many congratulations to Sir Peter Ratcliffe for the award of the Nobel Prize for his part in the discovery of the mechanisms for sensing oxygen levels in tissues in the human body – a medically important discovery that amply deserves this recognition.”

They received the prize for discovering how cells can sense and adapt to changing oxygen availability. They identified molecular machinery that regulates the activity of genes in response to varying levels of oxygen.

Animals need oxygen for the conversion of food into useful energy. The fundamental importance of oxygen has been understood for centuries, but how cells adapt to changes in levels of oxygen has long been unknown.

They established the basis for our understanding of how oxygen levels affect cellular metabolism and physiological function. Their discoveries have also paved the way for promising new strategies to fight anemia, cancer and many other diseases.

Read more on the Nobel Prize website.

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