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Our People

Prof Christopher Pugh

Fellow, Official Fellow, Sustainability Fellow

Professor of Renal Medicine

Nuffield Department of Clinical Medicine

BM BCh MA DPhil (Oxon), 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. Chris has worked with Sir Peter Ratcliffe since 1990. They, and their 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. This led to Peter being awarded the 2019 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, jointly with Bill Kaelin and Gregg Semenza. 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, Sir Peter Ratcliffe (Magdalen), Chris Schofield (Hertford) and Patrick Maxwell (Regius Professor of Physic at Cambridge) established ReOx Limited, an Oxford University spinout company.

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 also runs a specialist clinic looking after patients with renal metabolic problems and those who form recurrent kidney stones.

Chris is Director of the Oxford University Clinical Academic Graduate School which supports the development of young doctors who wish to combine their clinical training with an academic career.

On the educational front Chris is heavily involved in the standard Medical course in Oxford and the 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 Education Policy and Standards Committee and Chair of the University’s Science Purchasing Group.

Chris is married to Elisabeth, who was a Research Nurse. They have two adult children.