Elizabeth Blackburn
Australian-American Explorer of Telomeres

Elizabeth Blackburn in 2009

Up to the Age of Four, Elizabeth Lived in the Small Town of Snug, Tasmania; Then, She and Her Family Moved to Launceston, Where She Spent the Rest of Her Childhood

The Blackburn Children in 1952. From Left to Right: Katherine, Elizabeth, Barbara, and John

Elizabeth Blackburn in High School (1963)

Frederick Sanger, Elizabeth Blackburn's Ph.D. Advisor at Cambridge University, United Kingdom

Elizabeth Blackburn and John Sedat (Husband) During Her Post-Doctoral Research at Yale University

Human Chromosomes (gray) Capped by Telomeres (white)

Telomeres "cap" the Ends of a DNA Double-Helix Chromosome

In the 1930s, Herman J. Muller and Barbara McClintock Were the First to Study Telomeres

Tetrahymena thermophila, the Single-Celled Species that Elizabeth Blackburn Used During Her Research on Telomeres

During Cell Division, Each Chromosome is "Ripped Apart," and Each Half Goes to One of the New Cells. The Chromosomes in Each New Cell Should be Identical, but Elizabeth Discovered that Their Telomeres Differed in Length.

Elizabeth Discovered a Repeating Sequence in Telomeres

Elizabeth Exposed Yeast Chromosomes to Her Newly Discovered "Mystery Enzyme" (i.e. Telomerase), and the Telomeres on the Yeast Chromosomes Began to Grow. This was surprising, since the telomerase came from
Tetrahymena, not yeast, and it suggested that the telomerase was present in many types of organisms (not just Tetrahymena)

In Normal Human Cells, Telomere Length Gradually Shortens as the Person Ages

Elizabeth Blackburn and Her Son, Ben

In Cancer Cells, There is Uncontrolled Cell Division. Telomerase Allows this to Happen.

When A Normal Cell Becomes Cancerous, Telomerase Is Suddenly Abundant in the Cell.

Elizabeth Blackburn Signing the Academy Register as Newly Elected Member of the National Academy of Sciences in 1993

U2 Singer Bono and Elizabeth Blackburn Received Honorary Degrees at the University of Pennsylvania in 2004

Elizabeth Blackburn and Elissa Epel, Her Collaborator in the Stress Study of Women Caregivers of Chronically-Ill Children (2004)

In 2010, Elizabeth Blackburn Co-Founded Telome Health, Which Will Measure the Length of Your Telomeres.
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Elizabeth Blackburn in December 2011