Peter J. Ratcliffe was educated at Lancaster Royal Grammar winning an open scholarship to Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge in 1972. He studied Medicine at Cambridge and St Bartholomew's Hospital, London graduating with Distinction in 1978. He trained in renal medicine at Oxford initially working on the physiology of renal oxygenation and its implications for renal injury in shock.
In 1989 he changed fields to found a new laboratory, obtaining a Senior Fellowship from the Wellcome Trust to work on cellular oxygen sensing pathways. Over 20 years he has led the 'oxygen sensing' group successively in the Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine, the Henry Wellcome Building for Genomic Medicine, and the Henry Wellcome Building for Molecular Physiology at Oxford University. He was appointed University Lecturer in 1992, and titular Professor in 1996. He was elected Nuffield Professor of Medicine in 2003, and appointed Head of the Department of Medicine in 2004.
Awards include the Milne-Muerke Foundation Award, 1991; the Graham Bull Prize, 1998; the International Society for Blood Purification Award, 2002 and the Louis Jeantet Prize for Medicine 2009.
He was elected to the Fellowship of the Academy of Medical Sciences and to the Fellowship of the Royal Society in 2002; to EMBO in 2006 and Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2007.