Prof Chris Pugh
Professor Chris Pugh, oucags director
Chris is Professor of Renal Medicine at Oxford University, and is also an Honorary Consultant Physician at the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust, and a Fellow of Kellogg College, Oxford.
He divides his time between outpatient clinics in nephrology, research in hypoxia biology, a project on the application of real-time physiological monitoring to the care of patients on dialysis, overseeing Oxford’s Graduate-Entry Medical Course, running OUCAGS, and being an Associate Dean in HETV.
Overall, he is motivated by the variety of his activities, the excitement of discovery science, the potential that arises from application of novel methodology, the esprit de corps that comes from working in teams, the hope of important clinical translation of the discoveries, and the stimulation of interaction with students, trainees and importantly his family.
His career decisions have been driven by a mixture of fortune, opportunity, opportunism and calculated risk taking; they have not always been right but a mixture of optimism, pessimism, determination, wit and stupidity leads him to think it has gone all right (so far)!
Pathway to clinical academia
Chris studied pre-clinical medicine at Oxford between 1975-8, became captivated by immunology and obtained a doctorate for studies on dendritic cells from rat peripheral lymph.
He then worked as a Departmental Demonstrator in the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, Oxford, before being persuaded to undertake clinical studies and eventually qualifying in 1985. Following junior jobs in Oxford, Shrewsbury and London, and three failed attempts at passing MRCP, Chris returned to Oxford as a Medical Registrar, keen to rekindle his research interests.
[My] career decisions have been driven by a mixture of fortune, opportunity, opportunism and calculated risk taking.
- Prof Chris Pugh
After some debate he decided to change fields and obtain training in molecular biology, which had evolved since he had undertaken his doctorate and clearly had potential for major impact in biomedical science.
He obtained MRC funding (Training Fellowship, then Clinician Scientist Fellowship and then successive MRC Senior Fellowships) to work with Peter Ratcliffe, to understand how cells sense and respond to hypoxia.
Research and collaborations
Overall, the work has defined the HIF pathway, a highly conserved and widely operative system of transcriptional regulation by oxygen, has identified protein hydroxylation as a new post-translational regulatory mechanism, and defined the prolyl and asparaginyl hydroxylases, that act as cellular oxygen sensors in the control of these responses. (Listen to Chris on Renal Disease, or visit his departmental page.)
Latterly, Chris has teamed up with a group of biomedical engineers, led by Lionel Tarassenko, in trying to use novel techniques for monitoring vital signs of patients undergoing dialysis with a view to preventing hypotensive episodes.
Chris has been involved in founding two University spin-out companies, one relating to his hypoxia research and the other based on the bioengineering projects.
Other leadership roles
Chris became a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in 2000 and was elected to Fellowship of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2003. He has served on their Clinical Lectureship Starter Grant panel and is now Clinical Chair of the Academy's Careers Committee.
He has a long-standing commitment to teaching, and currently chairs the committee overseeing the Oxford Graduate-Entry Medical Course.