Two Americans and one British scientist were awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine on Monday for their work uncovering "how cells sense and adapt to oxygen availability," the Nobel Assembly at the Karolinska Institute announced. "Animals need oxygen for the conversion of food into useful energy," but until William Kaelin Jr., Peter Ratcliffe, and Gregg Semenza "identified molecular machinery that regulates the activity of genes in response to varying levels of oxygen," the institute explained, nobody knew how cells adapted.
The discoveries by the three laureates "have paved the way for promising new strategies to fight anemia, cancer, and many other diseases," the Karolinska Institute said. Kaelin, who works at Harvard, and Semenza, at Johns Hopkins, are American; Ratcliffe, who is British, works at the Francis Crick Institute. The three scientists will equally split the 9 million kronor ($918,000) cash prize.