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Gregg Semenza, M.D., Ph.D.

 Gregg Semenza in the lab. Dr. Gregg Semenza

Professor, Departments of Pediatrics, Medicine, Oncology, and Radiation Oncology

Gregg L. Semenza, M.D., Ph.D., professor of pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, today was awarded the 2019 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. He shares the award with William G. Kaelin, Jr., M.D., of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Peter J. Ratcliffe of Oxford University.

One of today’s preeminent researchers on the molecular mechanisms of oxygen regulation, Semenza has led the field in uncovering how cells adapt to changing oxygen levels. The Academy recognized him for his ground-breaking discovery in the laboratory of hypoxia inducible factor 1 or HIF-1, which helps cells cope with low oxygen levels. The discovery has far-reaching implications in understanding low oxygen health conditions such as coronary artery disease and tumor growth. He was also recognized for this discovery with an Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award in 2016.

HIF-1 controls genes involved in adaptation to low oxygen—genes that control energy manufacture, generation of new red blood cells and the growth of new blood vessels. He currently is studying the role of HIF-1 in cancer, ischemia and chronic lung disease, the most common causes of mortality in the U.S. population.


Johns Hopkins Medicine 2019 Nobel Prize Celebrations | Gregg Semenza

Celebrations to honor Gregg L. Semenza, M.D., Ph.D., who was awarded the 2019 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine by the Nobel Assembly at the Karolinska Institutet.

Gregg Semenza on the discovery of HIF-1

Semenza talks about his seminal discovery of the protein HIF-1 in the 1990s, its potential applications for treating anemia and cancer, and life as a researcher.

  • Gregg Semenza Lab

    The Gregg Semenza Lab studies the molecular mechanisms of oxygen homeostasis. We have cloned and characterized hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF-1), a basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor.

    Current research investigates the role of HIF-1 in the pathophysiology of cancer, cerebral and myocardial ischemia, and chronic lung disease, which are the most common causes of mortality in the U.S.

    Research Areas: cancer, oxygen, lung disease, genomics, HIF-1, pathogenesis, myocardial ischemia

    Principal Investigator

    Gregg Semenza, M.D., Ph.D.



Chemotherapy-Resistant Breast Cancer Stem Cells

While chemotherapy attacks and kills 99 percent of breast cancer cells, it leaves behind chemotherapy-resistant cancer stem cells, which can later cause metastatic tumors. Semenza’s team has identified a way to overcome the resistance of cancer stem cells to chemotherapy.

The Vascular Biology Program

Semenza introduces the Vascular Biology Program, where scientists trace cells as they move through the body and study the relationship between low-oxygen conditions, blood vessel growth and cancer.


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Awards and Achievements

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