Newsletter

Stay up to date with the latest from MAKERS delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for new stories from trailblazing women, a big dose of inspiration, and exclusive MAKERS content.

Newsletter Confirmation

Thank you for joining! Please check your inbox for our special welcome letter
with exclusive updates from MAKERS.

MAKERS Moment

Just as Free as the Men

Just as Free as the Men

More From Elizabeth

In this video

As a young female scienists, Blackburn felt as free as the men, and noticed some differiential in treatment.

Elizabeth's Biography

Family Zoo: Growing up in Tasmania, her family had a dog, cats, parakeets, canaries, guinea pigs, rabbits, bantam chickens, and goldfish.
Best Advice Ever Received: Put yourself in the very, very best environment where the best people are and the best work is going on.
The Means Not the Ends:  “I’m actually more proud of the fact that I think we do our work well, than almost of the fact of what it was.”
Role Model She’s Never Met: Marie Curie

Elizabeth Blackburn is a Nobel Prize-winning molecular biologist and a professor at the University of California, San Francisco. Her research is focused on understanding a critical structure at the end of chromosomes, called the telomere, which protects DNA during the cell division. These small cell structures are thought to provide important clues for fighting chronic diseases and slowing down the aging process.

Blackburn was born on the Australian island of Tasmania and immigrated to the United States in 1975 in order to conduct her postdoctoral work at Yale University. She joined the faculty at University of California Berkeley in 1978, before moving across the bay to UCSF in 1990.

Her breakthrough discovery, for which she was awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, concerned the process by which cells replicate. Specifically, Blackburn co-discovered an enzyme called “telomerase”, which rebuilds telomeres following cell division. Scientists knew that telomeres broke down during cell division, but until Blackburn’s discovery they didn’t know how they were repaired afterward.

In the years since her discovery, Blackburn has teamed up with doctors from broad range of fields in order to learn more about the restorative potential of telomerase.

My research is now trying to understand how we can anticipate and alleviate some of the processes…that are leading to increased diseases of aging,” she says.

Related Videos

Heather McTeer
Heather McTeer
Politician

Heather McTeer was born and raised in Greenville, Mississippi, “the heart and soul of the Mississippi Delta.” After graduating from Spelman College with a BA in Sociolo...

Amy Goodman
Amy Goodman
Journalist

Amy Goodman is an award-winning investigative journalist. Host and executive producer of “Democracy Now!”, Goodman’s program delivers independent news to over 1,1...

Faith Ringgold
Faith Ringgold
Artist & Activist

Faith Ringgold is one of America’s most gifted and generous visual storytellers. Though originally trained as a painter, she has worked to superb effect across media. Ringgol...

Sara Ziff
Sara Ziff
Filmmaker & Advocate

At the age of 14, Sara Ziff was walking home from school in New York City, when she was scouted to become a model. Ziff's experiences as a young model eventually fed into a des...