Elizabeth Blackburn on CSHL Symposium Volume
  Elizabeth Blackburn     Biography    
Recorded: 01 Jun 2000

Oh, the photographs are always fun. First of all, you can tell that everyone goes through immediately: are they in there? And what does it mean to be in it or not be in it? Everyone does a little sort of social reading about this whole thing. So that’s fun. But then they’re also fun because here are these big red journals, and you look at these things and you see these people and so there’s a very nice kind of science community thing here. You see people who just look hilariously 1970s and 1980s.

So I think that it plays a kind of science community role and I think that’s something that maybe you’re getting at what do these symposia mean to people? And they do mean a lot to people in their scientific lives. You know, it’s amazing how many people who have even mentioned this time, “Oh, I went to my first one in 1960-something,” [or] “Oh, I went to my first one in 1970-something.” And everybody has this sort of memory. I’m embarrassed that I couldn’t remember which year was my first one. But everyone has a kind of a memory of their first exposure here. So, it’s clearly something very important in the scientific lives.

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).