Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

We were honoured to host a celebration marking this year’s Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, awarded to our alumnus Sir Peter Ratcliffe.

Sir Peter Ratcliffe gives a speech as part of his Nobel Prize celebration at the MRC WIMM

“How is it that I came to be in this rather fortunate position” were the opening words by Sir Peter Ratcliffe, winner of this year’s Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. The speech was part of a celebration hosted at the MRC WIMM on Monday the 21st of October, the anniversary of Alfred Nobel’s birth.

Attended by over 300 people, the party was an opportunity to celebrate Sir Peter Ratcliffe’s achievements, not only scientific but also his efforts to support and foster the scientific and medical community in Oxford. Sir John Bell, Regius Professor of Medicine at the University of Oxford, thanked Sir Peter for his contributions over the years to the Medical School, the MRC WIMM and the Nuffield Department of Medicine, and lauded him as a “real clinician scientist”. These sentiments were echoed by Prof Richard Cornall, Head of the Nuffield Department of Medicine, a position previously occupied by Sir Peter.


Nobel Prize party© Julie Stevens


Prof. Doug Higgs presents Sir Peter Ratcliffe with a (chocolate) Nobel Prize© Julie StevensProf. Doug Higgs presents Sir Peter Ratcliffe with a (chocolate) Nobel PrizeOur Director Prof Doug Higgs summarised the main contributions by the Ratcliffe group to the understanding of oxygen sensing and regulation, and recalled the early days of the research at the MRC WIMM. Sir Peter first established his research group in our institute in 1989, but his initial plan had been to become a consultant nephrologist. After an ill-fated trip to Wales led him to turn down a position as a consultant physician in Cardiff, our institute’s founder, the late Sir David Weatherall, suggested that he applied for a grant from the Wellcome Trust. Sir Peter acknowledged the importance of the continued support by the Trust in the last 30 years, as well as the many friends and colleagues who contributed to his research over the years.

Vital to this exchange of ideas was the MRC WIMM coffee room. Sir Peter fondly recalled the time spent in its “perfect” armchairs- “ it was in those armchairs that we discussed endlessly what we might do to solve this oxygen sensing problem”. He recalled the contribution of all of those who brought new techniques to the institute, and hence contributed technically or intellectually to the work. The coffee room has always been a vital feature of our institute, and something that our founder Sir David Weatherall, fought hard to maintain under space pressures to make more lab space available. Sir David was fondly remembered at the event, and this Nobel prize is a symbol of his legacy fostering an environment where basic, curiosity-driven science could lead to breakthroughs in clinical medicine. “I wish David was here, he would have been enormously proud” said Prof Doug Higgs

“It was here that it was all hatched”- said Sir Peter Ractliffe- “ and it is a really great pleasure to be here again”


Dr Bruno Holthof (CEO of Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust), Prof. Doug Higgs (Director of the MRC WIMM), Sir Peter Ratcliffe, Prof. Richard Cornall (Head of NDM), Sir John Bell (Regius Chair of Medicine) and Dame Kay Davies (Professor of Anatomy)© Julie StevensDr Bruno Holthof (CEO of Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust), Prof. Doug Higgs (Director of the MRC WIMM), Sir Peter Ratcliffe, Prof. Richard Cornall (Head of NDM), Sir John Bell (Regius Chair of Medicine) and Dame Kay Davies (Professor of Anatomy)

Similar stories

New UK research consortium formed to tackle monkeypox outbreak

Investigation of the T cell responses against monkeypox virus will be led by Prof. Tao Dong at the CAMS-Oxford Institute and MRC Human Immunology Unit.

Ziqi Long receives NDM Prize

DPhil student Ziqi Long has been commended in the category NDM Overall Prize at the annual Nuffield Department of Medicine (NDM) Awards

Learn about cutting-edge research at Oxford Open Doors 2022

On Saturday 10th September 2022 12.30-4 pm, the MRC WIMM will be joining colleagues from the Medical Sciences Division at the Old Road Campus Research Building (ORCRB) as part of the Oxford Open Doors programme. This event is open to everyone.

Fundraising for award in memory of Dr Ling Felce

The Ling Felce award will promote cross-disciplinary excellence in bioinformatics.

Study of T-cell receptor activation leads to surprising discovery

A study from Davis Group is the first to describe the structure of the T-cell receptor when bound to an activating ligand. The findings shed light on an important trigger in the immune system, and suggest a completely new process by which cell receptors can be activated.

Defining the role of resident memory B cells in the fight against influenza

Researchers at the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology and the MRC Human Immunology Unit have used 3D and live-imaging to show how resident memory B cells boost antibodies to fight influenza.