Peter J. Ratcliffe

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Peter J. Ratcliffe
Born 14 May 1954 Edit this on Wikidata (age 64)
Alma mater Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge
Website Edit this on Wikidata

Sir Peter John Ratcliffe FRS (born 14 May 1954[1]) 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. Since 2016 he has been the director of the Target Discovery Institute, University of Oxford, and Clinical Research Director, at the Francis Crick Institute.[2]

Education and training[edit]

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.[3] 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.[3]


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[edit]

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

He was knighted in the 2014 New Year Honours for services to clinical medicine.[7]


  1. ^ Ratcliffe, Sir Peter (John) | WHO'S WHO & WHO WAS WHO. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.43812. 
  2. ^ "Peter Ratcliffe | The Francis Crick Institute". The Francis Crick Institute. Retrieved 2018-01-03. 
  3. ^ a b c "Peter J. Ratcliffe". Gairdner. Retrieved 2014-01-02. 
  4. ^ "Wellcome Trust | Wellcome Trust". 2009-03-26. Retrieved 2014-01-02. 
  5. ^ "Nuffield Department of Medicine - Prof Peter J Ratcliffe FRS". Retrieved 2014-01-02. 
  6. ^ "Buchanan Medal". Royal Society. Retrieved 11 December 2017. 
  7. ^ "No. 60728". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2013. p. 2. 

External Links[edit]

Personal Webpage at the University of Oxford