The trio - William Kaelin, Sir Peter Ratcliffe and Gregg Semenza - discovered how cells adapt when oxygen levels drop. The Nobel Physics prize is handed out on Tuesday and the following day is the chemistry prize.
"They established the basis for our understanding of how oxygen levels affect cellular metabolism and physiological function", the jury said.
Ratcliffe is director of clinical research at the Francis Crick Institute in London, and director of the Target Discovery Institute in Oxford. "I congratulate them for spectacular pieces of work that opened the doors for many, many others to study facets of this transcriptional regulation in an important field".
The 2018 Nobel Literature prize was suspended after a sex abuse scandal rocked the Swedish Academy, the body that awards the literature prizes, so two prizes are being awarded this year.
He said, "They were extremely happy, and happy to share the prize with each other".
When reached today by an early-morning phone call from Stockholm, Kaelin "was really happy - nearly speechless", said Thomas Perlmann, the Secretary-General for the Nobel Assembly and Nobel Committee.
"For example, when you're exercising, you're using up oxygen at a much more rapid pace. and this is a switch that helps the cell figure out how much oxygen it's getting and how it should behave". "A lot of people came to the office after the phone call and we had some champagne", he said.
"Low oxygen levels are a feature of some of the most life-threatening diseases", he said.
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Thunberg's category, the victor of which will be announced on Friday, is one of five created by Alfred Nobel in his third and last will in 1895, which left much of his wealth to establishing a prize for those who "conferred the greatest benefit to humankind" during the preceding year.
Semenza and Ratcliffe studied the regulation of a hormone called erythropoietin, which stimulates the production of red blood cells in response to low levels of oxygen.
The laureates will receive their awards at elegant ceremonies in Stockholm and Oslo on December 10 - the anniversary of Nobel's death in 1896.
Medicine is the first of the Nobel Prizes given each year.
This year, there are 301 candidates (223 individuals, and 78 organizations) up for the Peace Prize, according to the Nobel Foundation.
The 2019 Prize in economic sciences will be announced on Monday, Oct. 14.
Thomas Perlmann, far right, Secretary-General of the Nobel Committee announces the 2019 Nobel laureates in Physiology or Medicine during a news conference in Stockholm, Sweden. The Canadian prize is frequently a predictor of future Nobel winners.