Illustrated Presentation

Nobel Poster from the Nobel Committee for Physiology or Medicine, web adapted by
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Telomere DNA protects the chromosomes
Telomerase builds telomere DNA
Telomerase and disease
Credits and references

The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet has awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2009 jointly to Elizabeth Blackburn, Carol Greider and Jack Szostak for the discovery of how chromosomes are protected by telomeres and the enzyme telomerase.

All Nobel Laureates

Elizabeth H. Blackburn
Born 1948
University of California,
San Francisco, USA Carol W. Greider
Born 1961
Johns Hopkins University
School of Medicine,
Baltimore, USA Jack W. Szostak
Born 1952
Harvard Medical School,
Boston, USA

The award recognizes the discovery of a fundamental mechanism that has added a new dimension to our understanding of the cell, shed light on disease mechanisms, and stimulated the development of potential new therapies.

DNA Background

Telomere DNA protects the chromosomes

Elizabeth Blackburn studied the single-cell organism Tetrahymena thermophila and had found that the ends of chromosomes contain a short DNA sequence repeated many times.

Jack Szostak studied yeast cells and observed that linear artificial minichromosomes were rapidly degraded. Together they decided to test if telomere DNA from Tetrahymena could protect minichromosomes in yeast.

The break-through

Telomerase builds telomere DNA

How are telomeres formed? Carol Greider and Elizabeth Blackburn asked if an enzyme might synthesize telomeres.

Search for a new enzyme

Telomerase and disease

The discovery of telomere function and telomerase has broad medical implications in many fields including cancer, ageing and certain inherited diseases.

Telomerase and disease

Credits and references for the 2009 Nobel Poster for Physiology or Medicine

Scientific Advisors, Professors at Karolinska Institutet: Göran K. Hansson, Medicine. Secretary of the Nobel Assembly; Klas Kärre, Immunology. Chair of the Nobel Committee; Nils-Göran Larsson, Genetics; Thomas Perlmann, Developmental Biology; Rune Toftgård, Cancer Biology.

Illustrations and layout
: Annika Röhl, Bengt Gullbing

Printed by Alfaprint, Stockholm 2009

Copyright © 2009 The Nobel Committee for Physiology or Medicine at Karolinska Institutet
SE-171 77 Stockholm, Sweden

Web adapted version:

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