Nobel Prize for medicine won by British scientist Sir Peter Ratcliffe

Three winners awarded for discoveries of ‘how cells sense and adapt to oxygen and availability’

Anthony Cuthbertson
Monday 07 October 2019 16:51
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Nobel Prize for medicine won by William Kaelin, Sir Peter Ratcliffe and Gregg Semenza

The 2019 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine has been won by William Kaelin, Sir Peter Ratcliffe and Gregg Semenza.

The three winners were awarded for their discoveries of “how cells sense and adapt to oxygen and availability”, which is one of the most vital processes for sustaining animal life.

“The fundamental importance of oxygen has been understood for centuries, but how cells adapt to changes in levels of oxygen has long been unknown,” the Nobel Committee announced.

“Thanks to the groundbreaking work of these Nobel Laureates, we know much more about how different oxygen levels regulate fundamental physiological processes.”

Discoveries made by the trio of scientists have opened up new routes for researchers to understand and treat a huge range of diseases and conditions, ranging from altitude sickness to cancer.

UK scientist Sir Peter Ratcliffe is the Director of Clinical Research at the Francis Crick Institute in London. His work with the two US scientists make them the 110th, 111th and 112th winners of the prestigious award since 1901.

The announcement was made at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm on Monday morning. The prize is awarded each year to the person or group deemed to have made an outstanding discovery within the domains of life sciences and medicine.

Recent winners have included James Allison and Tasuku Honjo for their work on cancer therapy, and Yoshinori Ohsumi for his discoveries of “mechanisms for autophagy” for cell regeneration.

This year’s winners are awarded a gold medal, a diploma and a share of the nine million Swedish kroner (£740,000) prize money.

It is the first Nobel Prize to be awarded in 2019, with prizes for physics, chemistry, literature, peace and economic sciences set to be announced over the next seven days.

Environmental activist Greta Thunberg is widely tipped to win the Nobel Peace Prize after gaining international recognition for campaigning to draw attention to climate change.

The Swedish teen would become the youngest ever recipient of the award.

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