Elizabeth Blackburn, 2009 Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine



you Elizabeth Blackburn parent Iran's a laboratory at the University of San Francisco in California she pioneered the study of telomeres were the tips of chromosomes which has since become an important field of science advancing the development of cancer treatments and our knowledge of Aging we think of the telomeres being a little bit like that the little cap or the tip at the end of a shoelace so if you think if the chromosome as the shoelace and then there's two little tips at the end and those seal off the ends and protect Blackburn grew up in Australia and after completing her PhD she was keen to find out more about chromosomes in particular the ends in the 1970s very little was known about telomeres there was no sort of formula for how one could do this since I had to make it up and so you know every day was an adventure because you didn't know which one was going to be working and then sometimes you'd get a result her work showed that telomeres were actually a repeating DNA sequence this revealed the genetic structure of the telomere for the first time I remember taking the x-ray film out of the fixer having developed the film and holding it up against this you know dim red light in the darkroom and seeing this very very intense spot that immediately told me that there was a particular sequence it so right away I got a lot of information and I knew right away there was something really worth looking at and you know little did I know it's been the next thirty years of my life or more looking at this same kind of DNA when DNA replicates the very end of the chromosome cannot be copied so falls away and disintegrates Blackburn's discovery showed that the telomere sequence didn't contain DNA that was crucial to the cell therefore no essential genetic information is lost during the process the telomere sequence is simply to protect the chromosomes from damage and is otherwise redundant today Blackburn travels all over the world including regular visits to the Curie Institute in Paris when I was a kid I read about Marie Curie and read the biographies about the daughter and Tobias is very sort of evocative place because well you know this is Marie Curie's place and I know it's very affected by reading all about her and and it really grabbed me as an idea of why why you'd want to be a scientist

7 comments

  1. Very great achievement , she effected by Marie Cure , as a great scientist . God bless them all .

  2. I'm so sorry. I just meant to rephrase what she said but applied to her; proving she can be inspirational, like Marie Curie was to her, when Science fields weren't so open to women. It wasn't meant to exclude males in any way. I have a lot of male inspirations as well as female.

  3. And now, there will be little girls which will read Dr. Blackburn's biography and want to be scientists. =)

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