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

Healthy Aging

Healthy Aging

More From Elizabeth

In this video

Blackburn explains how her research relates to aging in good health.

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

Pat Foote
Pat Foote
Retired U.S. Army Brigadier General

Brigadier General Evelyn “Pat” Foote is a retired U.S. Army general. Her groundbreaking achievements include being the first female Deputy Inspector General of the Army...

Alexis Maybank & Alexandra Wilkis Wilson
Alexis Maybank & Alexandra Wilkis Wilson
Retail Entrepreneurs

Long time friends Alexis Maybank and Alexandra Wilkis Wilson are two of the founding partners of Gilt Groupe. Launched in 2007, the ecommerce startup specializes in bringing luxury...

Olivia Joy Stinson
Olivia Joy Stinson
Founder, Pen Pals Book Club For Children of Incarcerated Parents

Olivia Joy Stinson is the Founder and President of PEN Pals Book Club & Support Group For Children of Incarcerated Parents, an organization she started at the age of 14 to prov...

Lydia Cincore-Templeton
Lydia Cincore-Templeton
Foster Youth Advocate

Lydia Cincore-Templeton is the President and CEO of Children Youth and Family Collaborative, an academic and social development organization serving over 4,000 foster and at-risk y...