Duke alum wins 2019 Nobel Prize in medicine for discovery that could help treat anemia, cancer

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- A Duke alumnus won the 2019 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine.

Dr. William G. Kaelin Jr. received his undergraduate (1979) and medical (1983) degrees from Duke. He's currently a professor at Harvard University and a member of the Duke Board of Trustees.

Kaelin shares this year's prize with Sir Peter J. Ratcliffe and Gregg L. Semenza. They won the Nobel Prize for their discoveries of how cells sense and adapt to oxygen availability.

Scientists have known for ages that oxygen is vital for animals converting food into energy. However, their discoveries help map out how cells change to accommodate for different oxygen levels.

According to the Nobel Prize organization, Kaelin, Ratcliffe and Semenza's discoveries are helping pave the way for new treatments of anemia, cancer and other diseases. Click here to read more about the science behind their discovery and why it is so monumental.

According to Duke University, Kaelin is the third Duke alumnus to receive the Nobel Prize; Robert Richardson and Charles Townes are the previous Duke winners.
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