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OUH honorary consultant wins Nobel Prize

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An Oxford University Hospitals honorary consultant has been awarded the 2019 Nobel Prize for Medicine.

Professor Sir Peter Ratcliffe was one of three scientists to win the award for their work on how cells sense and adapt to oxygen levels, research that is leading to new treatments for a range of conditions, including cancer.

Sir Peter, of the University of Oxford and Francis Crick Institute, received the prestigious award alongside William Kaelin, of Harvard, and Gregg Semenza, of Johns Hopkins University.

Sir Peter, who until recently was an honorary consultant in general medicine at OUH, said: "I'm honoured and delighted at the news. I've had great support from so many people over the years. It's a tribute to the lab, to those who helped me set it up and worked with me on the project over the years, to many others in the field, and not least to my family for their forbearance of all the up and downs."

His work on hypoxia - a condition in which parts of the body are deprived of enough oxygen - has uncovered the molecular machinery that regulates the activity of genes in response to varying levels of oxygen. This has led to clinical trials on possible new therapies for cancer. 

Hypoxia is an important component of many human diseases, including cancer, heart disease, stroke, vascular disease and anaemia.

Sir Peter did his specialist training in nephrology in Oxford, with particular focus on oxygenation of the kidneys. He established an independent research group at the University of Oxford before becoming a full Professor in 1996.

He is director of the Target Discovery Institute in Oxford and member of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research. 

The Nobel Committee said that "thanks to the ground-breaking work of these Nobel Laureates, we know much more about how different oxygen levels regulate fundamental physiological processes."