08 October 2019

Gregg Semenza wins Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine


Professor Gregg Semenza (Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland) is among the trio of researchers to have won the 2019 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Professors William Kaelin, Peter Ratcliffe and Gregg Semenza won the prize for describing how cells sense and respond to changing oxygen levels.

Gregg was first introduced to the PVRI community during the 12th Annual World Congress on PVD in Miami, 2017, where he gave a talk entitled 'Hypoxia-Inducible Factors in Pulmonary Hypertension'. 


As a geneticist, Gregg was trained to study rare diseases. Later, his work on cellular responses to oxygen would lead him to study such common diseases as heart disease and cancer.

Gregg, William Kaelin (a cancer researcher at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Massachusetts) and Peter Ratcliffe (physician-scientist at the University of Oxford, UK, and the Francis Crick Institute in London) formed the team which also won the Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award in 2016.

Whilst Semenza and Ratcliffe studied the regulation of a hormone called erythropoietin (EPO), Kaelin showed that a gene called VHL also seemed to be involved in how cells respond to oxygen. This work eventually lead to their ground-breaking research that will gain an invaluable understanding into diseases, such as Cancer.

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