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University of Basel

08 April 2013

Nobel Prize Laureate Elizabeth Blackburn to visit Biozentrum

In 2007, the Time magazine named Elizabeth Blackburn one of the 100 "Most Influential People in the World". On 22nd April, 2013, the molecular biologist and Nobel Prize laureate, Prof. Elizabeth Blackburn, will speak as a "Biozentrum Lectures" guest about the enzyme telomerase and its role in aging as well as in the development of diseases such as cancer.

Prof. Elizabeth Blackburn has investigated the genetic mechanisms of aging for 30 years. For her groundbreaking discoveries, she was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 2009. On 22nd April, 2013, Elizabeth Blackburn will give a public presentation as part of the "Biozentrum Lectures" series.

The Nobel Prize laureate is the Morris Herzstein Professor in Biology and Physiology at the University of California, San Francisco. Already in the 1970’s, Blackburn discovered a structure at the ends of the chromosomes which served as a kind of protective cap, the so called telomeres. With each cell division, however, these ends become shorter. When the telomeres become too short, age-related illnesses such as cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases can result. In 1984, Blackburn and Carol Greider found an enzyme, which they named telomerase. It can replenish the shortened end of the chromosomes, thus delaying aging in man. Disorders in telomerase activity, such as those caused by mutations, weaken the body’s ability to repair itself.

Blackburn graduated in 1975 at the University of Cambridge, in England from the Lab of the Nobel Prize laureate Fred Sanger and subsequently continued her research as a postdoc at Yale University. In 1990, she moved to the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of California, San Francisco, which she headed from 1993 until 1999. For her pioneering research work, she has been honored with many awards including the Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research (2006) and the L’Oreal-UNESCO for Woman in Science (2008). Blackburn has also taken on leadership positions in various scientific societies and is currently President of the American Association for Cancer Research.

The public Biozentrum Lecture held by Prof. Elizabeth Blackburn will take place at 4.00 pm, on 22nd April, 2013, in Lecture Theater 1 at the Pharmazentrum, Klingelbergstrasse 50.

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