Sir Peter J. Ratcliffe
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2019
Born: 14 May 1954, Lancashire, United Kingdom
Affiliation at the time of the award: University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom; Francis Crick Institute, London, United Kingdom
Prize motivation: “for their discoveries of how cells sense and adapt to oxygen availability”
Prize share: 1/3
Peter Ratcliffe was born in Lancashire in Great Britain. He studied medicine at the University of Cambridge and completed medical school at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London. After additional studies at the universities in Oxford and Cambridge, he completed his doctorate in Cambridge in 1987. He has since worked at the University of Oxford and since 2016 also at the Francis Crick Institute in London.
Animals need oxygen for the conversion of food into useful energy. The importance of oxygen has been understood for centuries, but how cells adapt to changes in levels of oxygen has long been unknown. William Kaelin, Peter Ratcliffe, and Gregg Semenza discovered how cells can sense and adapt to changing oxygen availability. During the 1990s they identified a molecular machinery that regulates the activity of genes in response to varying levels of oxygen. The discoveries may lead to new treatments of anemia, cancer and many other diseases.