Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn, who is set to receive an honorary doctor of science degree during convocation ceremonies at Memorial Oct. 23, has won the Nobel Prize.
Dr. Blackburn and her colleagues Carol Greider and Jack Szostak were awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize in Medicine for their chromosome research.
The Karolinska Institute in Sweden, the steward of the Nobel Prize, says the trio was honoured for showing how chromosomes can be copied in a complete way during cell divisions and how they are protected against degradation. The Nobel Laureates have shown that the solution is to be found in the ends of the chromosomes – the telomeres – and in an enzyme that forms them – telomerase.
"These discoveries had a major impact within the scientific community," the Nobel citation said. "The discoveries by Blackburn, Greider and Szostak have added a new dimension to our understanding of the cell,
shed light on disease mechanisms, and stimulated the development of potential new therapies."
Dr. Blackburn is a prominent biologist and physiologist at the University of California, San Francisco.
Ironically, an earlier MUN Gazette article pointed out "she has received all the major accolades of science with the exception of the Nobel Prize."
The award includes a $1.5 million bonus, a diploma and an invitation to the Nobel Prize ceremonies in Stockholm on Dec. 10.
Dr. Greider is a professor in the department of molecular biology and genetics at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.
Dr. Szostak, a U.S. citizen who was born in London, England, grew up in Canada and studied at McGill University. He has been at Harvard Medical School since 1979 and is currently professor of genetics at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
Dr. Blackburn will receive an honorary doctor of science at the 10 a.m. session of Convocation on Oct. 23.