Elizabeth Blackburn © 2007 Micheline Pelletier
Professor Elizabeth H. Blackburn is a Nobel Laureate and Morris Herzstein Professor of Biology and Physiology, in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF). She is a leader in the area of telomere and telomerase research.
Elizabeth Blackburn discovered the molecular nature of telomeres – the ends of eukaryotic chromosomes that serve as protective caps essential for preserving the genetic information – and co-discovered the ribonucleoprotein enzyme, telomerase.
Professor Blackburn and her research team at UCSF are working with various cells (including human cells), with the goal of understanding telomerase and telomere biology. They also collaborate in investigating the roles of telomere biology in human health and diseases, in clinical and other human studies.
Born in Australia, Professor Blackburn earned her B.Sc. (1970) and M.Sc. (1972) degrees from the University of Melbourne, and her Ph.D. (1975) from the University of Cambridge in England. She did her postdoctoral work in Molecular and Cellular Biology at Yale University from 1975 to 1977.
In 1978, Professor Blackburn joined the faculty at the University of California Berkeley (UCB), in the Department of Molecular Biology. In 1990, she joined the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at UCSF, where she served as Department Chair from 1993 to 1999. Professor Blackburn is currently a faculty member in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at UCSF. She is also a Non-Resident Fellow of the Salk Institute.
Professor Blackburn has won many prestigious awards throughout her career. She was elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1991) and the Royal Society of London (1992). She was elected Foreign Associate of the National Academy of Sciences (1993) and Member of the Institute of Medicine (2000). She served on the President’s Council on Bioethics from 2002 to 2004, and has been awarded honorary degrees by 11 Universities. She received the Albert Lasker Medical Research Award for Basic Medical Research in 2006, and in 2007 was named one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People. In 2008 she was the North American Laureate for L’Oreal-UNESCO For Women in Science.
In 2009, Professor Blackburn was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.