Christopher Pugh

Official Fellow

Professor of Renal Medicine

Nuffield Department of Clinical Medicine

BM BCh MA DPhil Oxford, FRCP, FMedSci

Chris has been a Fellow of Kellogg College since 2004.  Kellogg is his fourth Oxford College having previously been a Fellow of Green College, a Lecturer at Trinity College and a Lecturer, Senior Scholar and commoner at Keble.  He was made Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in 2000, Professor of Renal Medicine in 2002 and elected to Fellowship of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2003.

Chris is a member of the Nuffield Department of Medicine and combines research with clinical practice.  His current area of research interest involves studying how cells and organisms (from worms to man) respond to low oxygen availability.  When oxygen levels fall the body makes a number of adaptive responses to try and compensate.  These include changes in the way in which oxygen is transported around the body, for example by increasing the number of red blood cells and blood vessels, and changes in the body’s metabolism so that energy production can be maintained even when the oxygen supply is low.  These changes can be entirely appropriate, for example allowing a mountaineer to perform well at altitude, or leading to the development of collateral blood vessels after a main blood vessel has been blocked.  Conversely, in cancer the tumour cells use similar changes to facilitate their survival, to the detriment of the patient.  Over the last 17 years Chris, and his colleagues, have elucidated the molecular basis for this adaptive response which involves a transcription factor called HIF (Hypoxia-inducible factor), regulated by enzymes from a family known as oxoglutarate-dependent dioxygenases.  Research efforts are now concentrating on trying to see how the system could be manipulated to help patients since an enhanced activity of this system might well be beneficial to patients with ischaemic disease, where the blood flow to tissues is limiting.  Alternatively, blockade of the system might become a component of future cancer therapies.  To help with drug development Chris and his colleagues, Peter Ratcliffe (Magdalen), Chris Schofield (Hertford) and Patrick Maxwell (now at University College, London) established ReOx Limited, an Oxford University spinout company which has been involved in an exciting research collaboration with Amgen Inc.

In his clinical work Chris looks after patients with a variety of acute and chronic kidney diseases, including those with complete kidney failure who are kept alive by dialysis or transplantation.  He does two outpatient clinics every week and acts as duty consultant for the Oxford Kidney Unit for six weeks each year.

Chris is on the Steering Committee of the Oxford comprehensive Biomedical Research Centre, which aims to enhance translational research in health care locally and nationally.  It is one of five such centres in the country that are funded by the Department of Health, and represents an important partnership between Oxford University and the Oxford Radciffe NHS Trust.

On the educational front Chris is heavily involved in the standard Medical course in Oxford and the new Graduate-entry Medical course.  He runs the teaching of kidney medicine on both courses and chairs the Graduate-entry course Education Committee.  Chris is also a member of the Medical Sciences Division Graduate Studies Committee.
Chris is married to Elisabeth, who works as a Transplant Nurse Practitioner.  They have two children.