The 2019 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine has been awarded to two American scientists and one British researcher who identified how cells sense changes in oxygen levels and adapt to them, revolutionary work for treating cancer, anemia, strokes and high-altitude sickness.

The Nobel Assembly at the Karolinska Institute awarded the prize to Americans William Kaelin Jr. and Gregg Semenza and British scientist Peter Ratcliffe.

“This year’s Nobel Laureates revealed the mechanism for one of life’s most essential adaptive processes,” the Nobel Prize organization said in a statement. “They established the basis for our understanding of how oxygen levels affect cellular metabolism and physiological function. Their discoveries have also paved the way for promising new strategies to fight anaemia, cancer and many other diseases.”