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Professor Peter J Ratcliffe FRS, the Nuffield Professor of Clinical Medicine at the University of Oxford, has been awarded the 2009 Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine. He shares the prize with Professor Michael N Hall of the University of Basel, Switzerland.

Peter RatcliffeThe Louis-Jeantet Prize is awarded each year to researchers working in European Council member countries that are carrying out outstanding biological research with significant implications for future medicine and healthcare. Both winners will receive 600,000 Swiss Francs (over £350,000) for their research and 100,000 Swiss Francs (almost £60,000) for their personal use.

Several winners of the award have subsequently gone on to win the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine or the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

The award recognises Professor Ratcliffe’s pioneering research on how cells in the body detect how much oxygen is available to them, and especially how they respond to a lack of oxygen. This has led to a better understanding of the development of diseases such as cancer and pulmonary or cardiovascular disease, where a lack of oxygen in the cell plays an important role. Professor Ratcliffe’s team is now working with closely with Professor Christopher Schofield, in the University’s Department of Chemistry to better understand these pathways and how they might be manipulated for the treatment of these diseases. The work has attracted substantial interest from the pharmaceutical industry as well as medical and biological scientists.

'We are delighted that Professor Ratcliffe's work has been recognised by this prestigious award,' says Professor Alastair Buchan, head of the medical sciences division at the University of Oxford. 'His outstanding research has great potential for the development of new treatments for cancer and heart disease. What makes this all the more impressive is that Professor Ratcliffe continues to look after patients in the hospital, those who will hopefully in time benefit directly as a result of this research.’

Professor Ratcliffe holds the Nuffield Chair of Clinical Medicine and is head of the Department of Clinical Medicine at Oxford University. He is a fellow of the Royal Society and was elected a foreign honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2007.

Professor Hall of the University of Basel receives his share of the award for research on mechanisms that control cell growth.

The award ceremony will take place in Geneva, Switzerland on April 23, 2009.