Former Lancaster Royal Grammar School pupil to be awarded Nobel Prize

Sir Peter Ratcliffe.
Sir Peter Ratcliffe.

A former Lancaster Royal Grammar School student has been jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for discoveries of how cells sense and adapt to oxygen availability.

Sir Peter Ratcliffe was a pupil of LRGS between 1965 and 1971, where he achieved outstanding A-level results in maths, physics and chemistry and was awarded an Open Scholarship to Gonville and Caius, University of Cambridge, in 1972.

Announced this week, the prize has also been awarded to William Kaelin Jr and Gregg Semenza.

Oxygen is essential in helping us convert food into energy. This year’s three Nobel laureates have received their award for discovering how cells sense and adapt to changing oxygen availability and identifying molecular machinery that regulates the activity of genes in response to varying levels of oxygen.

According to the Nobel Prize website, “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.

“Their discoveries have also paved the way for promising new strategies to fight anaemia, cancer and many other diseases”.

LRGS headmaster, Dr Chris Pyle, said: “We are delighted that Sir Peter Ratcliffe has been awarded this prestigious prize in recognition of his ground breaking work at the Crick Institute.

“I hope that his success will provide great inspiration for all our young scientists at Lancaster Royal Grammar School.”

Now 65, Sir Peter was born in 1954 in Morecambe.

After attending LRGS, he studied medicine at the University of Cambridge and then completed his studies by obtaining an MB ChB degree at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London in 1978.

Qualifying in 1978, Sir Peter relocated to Oxford where he trained in renal medicine at Oxford University, with a particular focus on renal oxygenation. He received a higher MD degree from University of Cambridge in 1987.

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.