Researcher who Discovered Telomerase’s Role in Aging and Cell Mutation among Five Women Scientists Awarded in Paris
NEW YORK, NY - December 6, 2007 - For her pioneering work with telomeres, the protective caps at the ends of chromosomes, and their relation to cell aging and disease, Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn was presented the prestigious L'ORÉAL -UNESCO For Women in Science Award. An expert in the area of telomere and telomerase research, Dr. Blackburn, Morris Herzstein Professor of Biology and Physiology in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of California, San Francisco, has worked to create a better understanding of stress as a cause leading to cell aging and the diseases of old age, including cancer.
Selected as the North American Laureate for her discovery of the ribonucleoprotein enzyme telomerase, Dr. Blackburn's research examines the function of the enzyme as it relates to cell aging and mutations that can cause cancer. During DNA synthesis, telomerase restores the ends of eukaryotic chromosomes, called telomeres, and Dr. Blackburn's research has found that mutant variations of telomerase impair cell division, which can contribute to aging and cancer.
"I would like to see our research be useful in furthering human well-being," said Dr. Blackburn. "Perhaps it will be useful in understanding what happens to our cells’ telomere maintenance that can cause common diseases to progress. Perhaps this understanding will prompt and guide interventions to try to improve health."