Jack W. Szostak


Jack W. Szostak

© The Nobel Foundation. Photo: U. Montan

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, 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. 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.

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