AN OXFORD scientist who worked as a doctor at the John Radcliffe Hospital has been jointly awarded the Nobel prize for medicine.

Sir Peter Ratcliffe was announced today as a winner of the prestigious international prize alongside William Kaelin, Jr of Harvard University and Gregg Semenza of Johns Hopkins University.

Together they discovered the key mechanisms that our cells use to detect and respond to low oxygen levels, known as hypoxia.

Every cell in the body needs the right amount of oxygen to function and survive.

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When our blood has too little oxygen, our kidneys send signals to boost red blood cell production to carry more oxygen.

At his laboratory in Oxford University's Nuffield Department of Medicine, Sir Peter discovered a universal mechanism for detecting and responding to hypoxia that has since been found in all our cells.

He said: ‘I’m honoured and delighted at the news. I’ve had great support from so many people over the years.

"It’s a tribute to the lab, to those who helped me set it up and worked with me on the project over the years, to many others in the field, and not least to my family for their forbearance of all the up and downs."

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Sir John Bell, Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford University, said the discovery was likely to have 'profound implications' for the treatment of cardiac diseases and cancer.

He added: "It is an impressive story of how a clinician scientist can combine ground-breaking basic science with caring for patients within the NHS."

Sir Peter is currently director for the Target Discovery Institute within the Nuffield Department of Medicine and was head of clinical medicine at Nuffield between 2004 and 2016.

He is also clinical research director at the Francis Crick Institute in London.