Nobel Prizewinner

Elizabeth Blackburn from TED talks
Images by TED Talks

Dr. Blackburn is the president of the Salk Institute and a pioneering molecular biologist.


She received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2009 for discovering the molecular nature of telomeres. These are the protective caps on the ends of chromosomes. They are essential for preserving genetic information.

Blackburn also co-discovered telomerase, an enzyme that maintains the telomere ends. Both telomeres and telomerase are thought to play central roles in ageing and diseases such as cancer, and her work helped launch entire new fields of research in these areas.

In addition to the Nobel Prize, Blackburn has received nearly every major scientific award including the Lasker, Gruber, and Gairdner prizes. She has served as president of the American Association of Cancer Research and the American Society for Cell Biology, and on editorial boards of scientific journals including Cell and Science. She coauthored the best-selling book The Telomere Effect: A Revolutionary Approach to Living Younger, Healthier, Longer.

What others say

“Few scientists garner the kind of admiration and respect that Dr. Blackburn receives from her peers for her scientific accomplishments and her leadership, service and integrity” — Irwin M. Jacobs, chair of Salk’s Board of Trustees

Elizabeth Blackburn won a Nobel Prize for her pioneering work on telomeres and telomerase, which may play central roles in how we age. She is president of the Salk Institute and author of the New York Times Best Seller, “The Telomere Effect.”

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