Newswise — Rockville, MD (October 7, 2019)—The 2019 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine has been awarded to William G. Kaelin Jr., Peter J. Ratcliffe and Gregg L. Semenza for their work on how cells sense and adapt to oxygen availability. The American Physiological Society (APS) congratulates the winners for their discoveries and contributions to the understanding of the use and regulation of oxygen.

“The seminal discoveries by this year’s Nobel Laureates revealed the mechanism for one of life’s most essential adaptive processes. They established the basis for our understanding of how oxygen levels affect cellular metabolism and physiological function,” the Nobel Assembly wrote in a press release. “Their discoveries have also paved the way for promising new strategies to fight anemia, cancer and many other diseases. Thanks to the groundbreaking work of these Nobel Laureates, we know much more about how different oxygen levels regulate fundamental physiological processes.”

Two of this year’s Nobel Laureates—Ratcliffe and Semenza—have published frequently in APS journals. A curated list of APS journal articles authored by Ratcliffe, Semenza and other Nobel Laureates is available on Semenza has also been closely connected with APS journals as an associate editor for American Journal of Physiology—Cell Physiology. A Theme of Reviews on “Cellular Responses to Hypoxia” was organized for the journal by Semenza.

“The recognition today of Gregg Semenza, MD, PhD, by his receipt of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine based on his original discovery and continuing efforts related to tissue and cellular oxygen sensing is so well-deserved. His discoveries have inspired work by many physiologists and other scientists,” said Paul A. Insel, MD, FAPS, a distinguished professor at the University of California, San Diego and past editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Physiology—Cell Physiology. “Gregg has also been an outstanding contributor through his dedicated efforts and insights as an associate editor. It is wonderful and so fitting to see him receive this honor for work that is at the interface of physiology and medicine.”

“This Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine highlights the critical importance of the discipline of physiology to our understanding of life and health,” said Dennis Brown, PhD, FAPS, professor of medicine at Harvard University and APS chief science officer. “The work honored today by Kaelin, Ratcliffe and Semenza demonstrates the foundational nature of physiology to the study of cellular processes, such as oxygen sensing, in order to inform advances in health care and disease prevention.”

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Physiology is the study of how molecules, cells, tissues and organs function in health and disease. Established in 1887, the American Physiological Society (APS) was the first U.S. society in the biomedical sciences field. The Society represents more than 10,000 members and publishes 15 peer-reviewed journals with a worldwide readership.