It’s finally October and that means not just pumpkins, but Nobel Prize season. Monday the Nobel committee announced the winners of the prize for Physiology or Medicine. The three recipients, two Americans and one Brit, won for their discoveries of how cells sense and adapt to low levels of oxygen, a state called hypoxia.

Sadeesh K. Ramakrishnan, a professor of medicine, explains why the win thrilled his colleagues at the University of Pittsburgh and why understanding how cells deal with oxygen fluxes – caused by exercise, injury or even high altitudes – has implications for many diseases, including cancer and anemia.

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Alfred Nobel made his fortune through the invention of dynamite. Paramonov Alexander/

Discovery of how cells sense oxygen levels earns Nobel Prize

Sadeesh K. Ramakrishnan, University of Pittsburgh

Oxygen is vital for life, so much so that cells can sense when there isn't enough and adapt almost instantly. So how do they do it? The winners of the 2019 Nobel Prize for Physiology figured it out.

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  • Strong family ties during teen years can help ward off depression in later life

    Ping Chen, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Kathleen Mullan Harris, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

    The teen years are filled with fun for some, but many youth begin to experience serious depression, which can set them up for recurring bouts. A new study offers hope: Support and understanding help.

  • More mental health care won’t stop the gun epidemic, new study suggests

    Tom Wickizer, The Ohio State University; Evan V. Goldstein, The Ohio State University; Laura Prater, The Ohio State University

    A new study looks at whether deaths by suicide could be lowered with mental health care. To a small degree, yes. But a look at the costs suggests there may be better ways to prevent shooting deaths.

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