Three scientists William G Kaelin, Jr, Peter J Ratcliffe and Gregg L Semenza have jointly won the 2019 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine.
They received the award jointly for their discoveries of “how cells sense and adapt to oxygen availability,” the Nobel Committee announced on Monday.
It is the 110th prize in the category that has been awarded since 1901.
The Karolinska Institutet said in a statement the trio should share equally the 9 million kronor ($918,000) cash award.
Thomas Perlmann, the secretary of the Nobel Committee at the Sweden’s Karolinska Instititute, said he was able to call the three laureates Monday, adding the last one he called was Kaelin. He reached him via his sister who gave him two phone numbers the first one was a wrong number but he reached Kaelin on the second.
Their research established the basis for the understanding of how oxygen levels affect cellular metabolism and physiological functions, the institute said.
Oxygen sensing is central to a large number of diseases, it said. Intense ongoing efforts in academic laboratories and pharmaceutical companies are now focused on developing drugs that can interfere with different disease states by either activating, or blocking, the oxygen-sensing machinery.
Medicine is the first of the Nobel Prizes awarded each year. The prizes for achievements in science, peace and literature have been awarded since 1901 and were created in the will of dynamite inventor and businessman Alfred Nobel.
Nobel medicine laureates have included scientific greats such as Alexander Fleming, the discoverer of penicillin, and Karl Landsteiner, who identified separate blood types and so enabled safe transfusions to be widely introduced.
Last year American James Allison and Japanese Tasuku Honjo won the prize for discoveries about how to harness the immune system in cancer therapies.