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

Elizabeth Gore
Elizabeth Gore
Activist & Cause Marketer

Elizabeth Gore grew up working on her family's cattle ranch in Texas. Now the Vice President of Global Partnerships for the United Nations Foundation, she is currently managing...

Ai-jen Poo
Ai-jen Poo
Domestic Worker Advocate

Ai-jen Poo is currently the Director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance – an organization that works to empower and organize domestic workers across 19 cities and 11 ...

Maria Pepe
Maria Pepe
Little League's First Girl

It’s the three-game Little League pitching career “heard ‘round the world.” Maria Pepe was eleven years old when the neighborhood boys with whom she had bee...

Nadine Burke Harris
Nadine Burke Harris
Founder & CEO, Center for Youth Wellness

Nadine Burke Harris founded Center for Youth Wellness, an organization that seeks to recognize and effectively treat toxic stress in children. Burke Harris and her organization add...