Elizabeth Blackburn on CSHL: Changes over Time
  Elizabeth Blackburn     Biography    
Recorded: 01 Jun 2000

In terms of the real essence, the really important things, it’s actually amazing how little in a way: you come to Cold Spring Harbor and it’s like you come back into this kind of—it’s this very special environment you come back to because you know you’re going to have this exciting week. You know there’s going to be all this kind of energy and interaction and really mentally stimulating things going on and each time over the years it sort of recreates, I recreate that same thing. And it still seems to be the same in all the essential ways. I mean, there’s lot of people; there’s way too much information; the posters are noisy. You just, there’s sort of a very exciting sort of, a slightly overloaded state all the time. Actually I found that surprisingly little changed in the important things.

Obviously, the physical things have changed: the material comforts have clearly gotten higher and higher at Cold Spring Harbor but I have to say, so have our expectations, I think, and so I think they’ve just moved in sync. But the really important things, it’s amazing: it reminds me very much of—I’d show up and give the talk. It was usually a very important time to be giving a talk cause you knew that a talk that you gave here, it meant something. And it was going to be subject to lots of scrutiny and lots of input and it was also good for you to have the opportunity to give the talk. So there was always this kind of real buzz that you get when you give a talk at Cold Spring Harbor. And really none of that’s gone away, so it’s been amazingly constant, is what I would say, in the important things.

Elizabeth Blackburn is a leader in the study of telomere function and biology. She earned her B.Sc. (1970) and M.Sc. (1972) degrees from the University of Melbourne in Australia, and her Ph.D. (1975) from the University of Cambridge in England. She did her postdoctoral work in molecular and cellular biology at Yale from 1975 to 1977. Blackburn is currently a professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, and a faculty member in the Program in Biological Sciences and Biomedical Sciences at UCSF as well as a Non-Resident Fellow of the Salk Institute.

Blackburn discovered the ribonucleprotein enzyme, telomerase, and currently researches the effect that the manipulation of telomerase activity has on cells. Her laboratory work intends to elucidate the biology of telomerase and telomere.

She attended her first meeting at CSHL in the late 1970’s and has organized Telomeres and Telomerase meetings at the Lab. Blackburn was a mentor to former Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory scientist, Dr. Carol W. Greider.

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2009 was awarded jointly to Elizabeth H. Blackburn, Carol W. Greider and Jack W. Szostak "for the discovery of how chromosomes are protected by telomeres and the enzyme telomerase".

Copyright © The Nobel Foundation, 2009

Blackburn is an elected Fellow to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1991), the Royal Society of London (1992), and the American Academy of Microbiology (1993). She is a foreign associate of the National Academy of Sciences (1993) and Past-President of the American Society for Cell Biology (1998).