Peter Ratcliffe studied medicine at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge and St Bartholomew’s Hospital, London. After positions at the London Postgraduate Hospitals he moved to Oxford to train as a nephrologist. Following specialist clinical training he became interested in the regulation of the haematopoietic growth factor erythropoietin, which is produced by the kidneys in response to reduced blood oxygen availability. This work led to the unexpected discovery that the oxygen sensing process underlying the regulation of erythropoietin production operates widely across human and animal cells and to the current understanding of the mechanisms involved.
He served as Nuffield Professor and Head of Department of Medicine at the University of Oxford from 2004-2016. In May 2016 he was appointed Director of Clinical Research at the Francis Crick Institute, London, retaining a position at Oxford as Director of the Target Discovery Institute and Member of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research.