Born: 1948, Hobart, Tasmania
Elizabeth Blackburn attended the University of Melbourne, where she gained a B.Sc. in 1970 and her M.Sc. in 1972. She then went on to gain a PhD from the Cambridge. She did postdoctoral study in molecular and cellular biology at Yale University from 1975 to 1977.
In 1978, Professor Blackburn joined the Department of Molecular Biology at the University of California at Berkeley. In 1990, she moved to the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at University of California at San Francisco (UCSF), where she served as the Department Chairman from 1993 to 1999. She is currently the Morris Herzstein Professor of Biology and Physiology at UCSF, and a non-resident fellow of the Salk Institute.
Professor Blackburn’s research focus is the telomere, the protective structure at the end of chromosomes. For co-discovering telomerase, the enzyme that replenishes the telomere, she was awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, along with Carol W. Greider and Jack W. Szostak.
The discovery of telomerase, which plays a critical role in cell age, formation, and deterioration, is a major breakthrough, particularly in its application to cancer research. Telomerase affects the ability of a cancer cells to replicate and to continue to mutate. Study of its action could be critical in the search for cancer cures as well the quest to extend the human lifespan.
In 2001 Professor Blackburn was appointed a member of the President’s Council on Bioethics but her appointment was terminated by the White House, to the outrage of many scientists, after she accused the council of being set up to justify President Bush’s positions on stem cell research and abortion, and objected to his perceived distortions of science.
She serves on the Science Advisory Board of the US Genetics Policy Institute.
In 2007, Blackburn was listed among Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in The World. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Royal Society of London, the American Academy of Microbiology and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a Foreign Associate of the US National Academy of Sciences.
Elizabeth Blackburn is Australia’s first female Nobel laureate.
1988: Eli Lilly Research Award for Microbiology and Immunology 1990: National Academy of Sciences Award in Molecular Biology
1991: Honorary Doctorate of Science from Yale University
1990: Harvey Society Lecturer at the Harvey Society in New York
recipient of the UCSF Women’s Faculty Association Award
1998: Gairdner Foundation International Award
1998: President of the American Society for Cell Biology
1999: Harvey Prize
1999: Keio Prize
1999: California Scientist of the Year
2000: American Association for Cancer Research – G.H.A. Clowes Memorial Award
2000: American Cancer Society Medal of Honor
2001: AACR-Pezcoller Foundation International Award for Cancer Research (2001)
2001: General Motors Cancer Research Foundation Alfred P. Sloan Award (2001)
2001: E.B. Wilson Award of the American Society for Cell Biology (2001)
2003: Robert J. and Claire Pasarow Foundation Medical Research Award (2003)
2004: Dr A.H. Heineken Prize for Medicine
2006: Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research (with Carol W. Greider and Jack Szostak)
2006: Genetics Prize from the Peter Gruber Foundation (2006)
2007: Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize (with Carol W. Greider and Joseph G. Gall)
2008: L’Oréal-UNESCO Award for Women in Science
2009: Mike Hogg Award
2009: Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine (with Carol W. Greider and Jack Szostak)
More by and about Elizabeth Blackburn
Video of Elizabeth Blackburn speaking at Melbourne University, March 2010
Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine Citation, 2009
Clinical Chemistry, A Conversation with Elizabeth Blackburn, February 2009
Women@Google talks, Dr Elizabeth Blackburn
Salon.com, ‘A Nobel Prize for a Bush Critic’, October 2009
ABC Radio In Conversation, Elizabeth Blackburn, March 2007
Catherine Brady, Elizabeth Blackburn and the story of telomeres: deciphering the ends of DNA, MIT Press, 2007
Authors@Google, Catherine Brady talks about her book Elizabeth Blackburn and the Story of Telomeres, June 2008
USA Today, ‘Scientists rally around stem cell advocate fired by Bush’, March 2004
New York Times, ‘Finding Clues to Aging in the Fraying Tips of Chromosomes’, July 2007
Discover Magazine, ‘Scientist of the Year Notable: Elizabeth Blackburn’, December 2007
New York Times, ’3 Americans Share Nobel for Medicine’, October 2009
DNA From the Beginning, ‘Blackburn, Greider, Szostak share Nobel’
Alice Park, “The Time 100: Elizabeth Blackburn”, Time Magazine
University of Southern California, Blackburn Lab