Elizabeth H. Blackburn
Born: 26 November 1948, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
Affiliation at the time of the award: University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA
Prize motivation: "for the discovery of how chromosomes are protected by telomeres and the enzyme telomerase"
Prize share: 1/3
An organism's genes are stored within DNA molecules, which are found in chromosomes inside its cells' nuclei. When a cell divides, it is important that its chromosomes are copied in full, and that they are not damaged. At each end of a chromosome lies a "cap" or telomere, as it is known, which protects it. In 1980, Elizabeth Blackburn discovered that telomeres have a particular DNA. In 1982, together with Jack Szostak, she further proved that this DNA prevents chromosomes from being broken down. Blackburn and Carol Greider discovered the enzyme telomerase, which produces the telomeres' DNA, in 1984.
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