Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2019


On October 7th, 2019, the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institute has decided to award the 2019 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine jointly to William G. Kaelin Jr., Sir Peter J. Ratcliffe and Gregg L. Semenza for their discoveries of how cells sense and adapt to oxygen availability.

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.

William G. Kaelin Jr., Sir Peter J. Ratcliffe and Gregg L. Semenza discovered how cells can sense and adapt to changing oxygen availability. The seminal discoveries by this year’s Nobel Laureates revealed the mechanism for one of life’s most essential adaptive processes. 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.

William G. Kaelin, Jr. was born in 1957 in New York. He obtained an M.D. from Duke University, Durham. He established his own research lab at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and became a full professor at Harvard Medical School in 2002. He is an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute since 1998.

Sir Peter J. Ratcliffe was born in 1954 in Lancashire, United Kingdom. He studied medicine at Gonville and Caius College at Cambridge University. He established an independent research group at Oxford University and became a full professor in 1996. He is the Director of Clinical Research at Francis Crick Institute, London, Director for Target Discovery Institute in Oxford and Member of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research.

Gregg L. Semenza was born in 1956 in New York. He received an MD/PhD degree from the University of Pennsylvania, School of Medicine, Philadelphia in 1984. He became a full professor at the Johns Hopkins University in 1999 and since 2003 is the Director of the Vascular Research Program at the Johns Hopkins Institute for Cell Engineering.

From left to right: Gregg L. Semenza, Sir Peter J. Ratcliffe, and William G. Kaelin Jr. (Source: Nobel Prize)

Original published by Sciencedaily with slightly modification