Sunday, November 5, 2017

WOMEN IN STEM: Elizabeth H. Blackburn

Elizabeth H. Blackburn (1948-) is an Australian American molecular biologist and biochemist who won the Nobel Prize in 2009 for Physiology/Medicine with Carol Greider and Jack Szostak.
Blackburn earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Melbourne in the 1970’s. Her studies focused on biochemistry and she later studied molecular biology at the graduate level at the University of Cambridge in England. In 1975, Blackburn achieved her Ph.D and later that year began research at Yale University. There, her research focused on the structure and replication of chromosomes which, eventually, led to her discovery surrounding the composition of telomeres. Blackburn discovered that telomeres are made up of short repeating pieces of DNA. In 1980, Blackburn continued her research with Szostak and later Blackburn began research with Geider. Eventually, Blackburn and Greider discovered telomerase-which has an important role in the life span of a cell. During the duration of her career, Blackburn has received many awards, including the Nobel Prize in Physiology/Medicine in 2009 (with Greider and Szostak), the Gairdner Foundation International Award in 1998 (with Greider), and the Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award in 2006 (with Greider and Szostak).

Quote: “If we think of our chromosomes - they carry our genetic material - as being like shoelaces, I work on the plastic tips at the end that protect them.”

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