Professor Sir Peter J Ratcliffe FRS
A quote from Professor Sir Peter J Ratcliffe FRS: In clinical medicine, if one doesn't know what to do, one would be better to do nothing. In the lab, precisely the reverse is true: if you don't know what to do, you would be better off doing something.

Lasker Award for Professor Sir Peter Ratcliffe

The University of Oxford's Professor Sir Peter Ratcliffe has won one of the most prestigious prizes in medicine.

Since 1945, the Lasker Awards has recognised the contributions of scientists, physicians, and public servants who have made major advances in the understanding, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of human disease. Many past Lasker winners have gone on to be awarded Nobel prizes.

Professor Sir Peter Ratcliffe has made an immense contribution to the understanding of our fundamental physiology.

Professor Louise Richardson, Vice-Chancellor, University of Oxford

Now, Professor Ratcliffe, is to receive the Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award, for his work understanding the mechanisms by which cells sense and signal hypoxia (low oxygen levels). Hypoxia is an important component of many human diseases including cancer, heart disease, stroke, vascular disease, and anaemia.

A key success was defining the oxygen sensing and signalling pathways that link the essential transcription factor, hypoxia inducible factor (HIF) to the availability of oxygen.

The award has been jointly awarded to William G. Kaelin of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/Harvard Medical School, and Gregg L. Semenza, of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, who worked with Professor Ratcliffe to understand the processes.

Claire Pomeroy, President of the Lasker Foundation, said: 'The work of this year's honorees epitomises the power and impact of dedication to rigorous and innovative medical research. These outstanding advances have illuminated fundamental aspects of life, developed a cure for a deadly disease, and raised public engagement with science. The innovative and highly original achievements of these scientists highlight the critical importance of sustained support for biomedical research in attaining a healthier future for all.'

Professor Alastair Buchan, Dean of Medicine and Head of the Medical Sciences Division at Oxford, said: 'The whole of Oxford Medical Sciences is delighted to hear this news recognising Sir Peter Ratcliffe's contribution. His discovery fits the singular criteria of revealing new knowledge.

'We are particularly thrilled as Sir Peter is based not only at the University of Oxford but is also a clinician in Oxford University Hospitals and has helped us steer the Oxford University Hospitals NIHR Biomedical Research Centre.'

Professor Louise Richardson, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford, said: 'Professor Sir Peter Ratcliffe has made an immense contribution to the understanding of our fundamental physiology.

'For more than twenty years his laboratory at Oxford has been preeminent in the discovery of molecular-level responses to oxygen depletion. While working at the forefront of medical research, Professor Ratcliffe has also provided inspirational teaching in an acute clinical setting and has supported countless patients.

'The University is extremely proud of Sir Peter, and delighted that he is being honoured in this way by the Lasker Foundation.'