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Peter J Ratcliffe

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Name  Peter Ratcliffe

Role  Molecular Biologist
Peter J. Ratcliffe toolsndmoxacukpinfoximporterspinfoxNDMima
Awards  Gairdner Foundation International Award

Sir Peter John Ratcliffe FRS (born 1954) is a British doctor and cell and molecular biologist best known for his work on cellular reactions to hypoxia. He is a practicing clinician at the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford and has been Nuffield Professor of Clinical Medicine and head of the Nuffield Department of Clinical Medicine at the University of Oxford since 2004. In 2009 he was awarded the Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine.


Education and training

Ratcliffe was born in 1954 in Lancashire and attended Lancaster Royal Grammar School for boys. He won an open scholarship to Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge in 1972 to study Medicine at the University of Cambridge and St Bartholomew's Hospital, London. Graduating in 1978, Ratcliffe relocated to Oxford where he trained in renal medicine at Oxford University, with a particular focus on renal oxygenation.

In 1989 he changed fields to found a new laboratory, obtaining a Senior Fellowship from the Wellcome Trust to work on cellular oxygen sensing pathways.


In the early 1980s researchers knew very little about the fundamental cellular processes leading to hypoxia. This all changed in 1989 when Ratcliffe, who had been training as a kidney specialist, established a laboratory to explore the regulation of erythropoietin – a hormone responsible for stimulating the production of red blood cells, known to be turned on in kidney cells following oxygen deprivation. Ratcliffe’s group soon realised that kidney cells were not the only cells that reacted to hypoxia. Dozens of cell types, in both humans and other organisms, could switch on erythropoietin and other genes when deprived of oxygen. Building on these discoveries, the Ratcliffe group helped to uncover a detailed molecular chain of events that cells use to sense oxygen. This same pathway is also disrupted in many tumours, allowing them to create new blood vessels to sustain their growth. Much of our current understanding of hypoxia has emerged from the laboratory of Ratcliffe.

Honours and awards

Ratcliffe has received a number of awards, accolades and honours for his seminal work on hypoxia.

  • The Milne-Muerke Foundation Award (1991)
  • The Graham Bull Prize (1998)
  • The International Society for Blood Purification Award (2002)
  • A Fellowship for the Academy of Medical Sciences (2002)
  • A Royal Society Fellowship (2002)
  • An EMBO Fellowship (2006)
  • A Foreign Honorary Membership of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2007)
  • The Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine (2009)
  • The Canada Gairdner International Award (2010)
  • 24th Annual Robert J. and Claire Pasarow Foundation Award in Cardiovascular Research (2011)
  • Baly Medal, the Royal College of Physicians (2011)
  • Scientific Grand Prix of the Foundation Lefoulon-Delalande, Institute of France (2012)
  • Jakob-Herz-Preis, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany (2013)
  • The Wiley Prize for Biomedical Science (2014)
  • Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research (2016)
  • He was knighted in the 2014 New Year Honours for services to clinical medicine.


    Peter J. Ratcliffe Wikipedia

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