Elizabeth Blackburn

2009 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine


Elizabeth Blackburn, is an Australian-American Nobel laureate who is the former President of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. Previously she was a biological researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, who studied the telomere, a structure at the end of chromosomes that protects the chromosome. In 1984, Blackburn co-discovered telomerase, the enzyme that replenishes the telomere, with Carol W. Greider. For this work, she was awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, sharing it with Greider and Jack W. Szostak.

Blackburn’s research involves further investigation of the genetic composition and cellular functions of telomeres and telomerase, as well as studies on the interactions of these cellular components and their roles in cancer and aging. She is well-known for her book “The telomere effect”, which deals with how the state of a person’s telomeres is influenced by lifestyle.

In addition to the Nobel Prize, Blackburn has received nearly every major award in science, including the Lasker, Gruber and Gairdner prizes. In 2007, Blackburn was listed among Time Magazine's The TIME 100 – The People Who Shape Our World. She is a member of numerous prestigious scientific societies, including the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine and the Royal Society of London.

Photo provided by Science History Institute, under CC BY SA 3.0 license

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