Jack W. Szostak
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2009
Born: 9 November 1952, London, United Kingdom
Affiliation at the time of the award: Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, USA, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
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. After Elizabeth Blackburn discovered that telomeres have a particular DNA, through experiments conducted on ciliates and yeast, she and Jack Szostak proved in 1982 that the telomeres' DNA prevents chromosomes from being broken down.
Their work and discoveries range from cancer therapy and laser physics to developing proteins that can solve humankind’s chemical problems. The work of the 2018 Nobel Laureates also included combating war crimes, as well as integrating innovation and climate with economic growth. Find out more.