Dr. Elizabeth H. Blackburn is the Morris Herzstein professor of biology and physiology, in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF). Dr. Blackburn earned a bachelor of science and a master of science at the University of Melbourne and earned her Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge in England. She went on to do her postdoctoral study in molecular and cellular biology at Yale University, and in 1978 joined the faculty of the University of California, Berkeley in the Department of Molecular Biology. In 1990, she moved to the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), where she served as department chair from 1993 to 1999.
For more than a quarter century, Dr. Blackburn has been investigating the structure and role of telomeres. More recently, she has been applying her insights into telomere biology to the development of a new anti-cancer therapy that forces cells with active telomerase to make errors during telomere synthesis, effectively triggering cellular suicide.
Throughout her career, Dr. Blackburn has received many prestigious awards, including the Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research, the Eli Lilly Research Award for Microbiology and Immunology, the National Academy of Science Award in Molecular Biology, the Australia Prize, the Harvey Prize, the Keio Prize, the Lasker Award, AACR-G.H.A. Clowes Memorial Award, American Cancer Society Medal of Honor, AACR-Pezcoller Foundation International Award for Cancer Research, General Motors Cancer Research Foundation Alfred P. Sloan Award, E.B. Wilson Award of the American Society for Cell Biology, 26th Annual Bristol-Myers Squibb Award for Distinguished Achievement in Cancer Research, and the Dr. A.H. Heineken Prize for Medicine. She was named California Scientist of the Year in 1999, served as president of the American Society for Cell Biology, and was elected to the American Association for Cancer Research’s Board of Directors in 2006. Dr. Blackburn is an elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Royal Society of London, the American Academy of Microbiology, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Academy of Sciences, and the Institute of Medicine.