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STEM Supreme: Elizabeth Blackburn

STEM Supreme: Elizabeth Blackburn
Reported by
Brooke Grindlinger, PhD, New York Academy of Sciences

Posted June 29, 2021

Presented By

The New York Academy of Sciences

In this pilot episode of the webinar series STEM Supremes: Conversations with Women in Science, the Academy’s Chief Scientific Officer, Dr. Brooke Grindlinger, interviewed the ‘queen of telomeres,’ Australian-American scientist Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn. Light years on from her early work sequencing the DNA of the pond scum protozoan Tetrahymena, Blackburn unraveled our understanding of the function of telomeres—the protective caps on the ends of chromosomes—and the role they play in aging and diseases such as cancer. She has pioneered a path for women scientists, and received the pinnacle of scientific achievement—the Nobel Prize—for unlocking secrets about how we age at a fundamental level. The conversation spanned Blackburn’s teenage fascinations with science, the anxieties of transitioning from student to independent investigator, cultural and gender barriers she navigated along the way, and what excites her on the horizon of aging research.

In this eBriefing, You’ll Learn:

  • How sleep quality, exercise, diet, and chronic stress impact the length of human telomeres and, in turn, our genetic heritage
  • Studies underway to understand the effect of severe stress on how individuals will respond, long-term, to COVID-19 vaccination
  • Tactics for managing the transition from PhD student to post-doctoral fellow, and from post-doc to junior faculty member
  • Tangible actions academic leaders can take to better support parents, particularly women, as they navigate the competing demands of family and a research career
  • Goals of the Lindau Declaration 2020 on Sustainable Cooperative Open Science


Brooke Grindlinger
Brooke Grindlinger, PhD

New York Academy of Sciences

STEM Supremes: In Conversation with Elizabeth Blackburn


Brooke Grindlinger, PhD

New York Academy of Sciences

STEM Supremes: In Conversation with Elizabeth Blackburn

Elizabeth Blackburn (University of California San Francisco)

A full transcript of this conversation is available for download here.

Elizabeth Blackburn, PhD
University of California San Francisco

Dr. Blackburn earned her BSc and MSc degrees from the University of Melbourne, and her PhD from the University of Cambridge in England. She was a postdoctoral fellow in the Molecular and Cellular Biology Department at Yale University, and later joined the faculty at the University of California at Berkeley in the Department of Molecular Biology. She was Chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at UC San Francisco, and later served as the first female president of the Salk Institute for Biological Sciences. Among her many career honors, Blackburn shared the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with collaborators Carol Greider and Jack Szostak for the discovery of how chromosomes are protected by telomeres and the enzyme telomerase. Blackburn is currently Professor Emerita, Biochemistry and Biophysics, UC San Francisco. 

Brooke Grindlinger, PhD
New York Academy of Sciences

Read more about Dr. Grindlinger, the Academy’s Chief Scientific Officer, here.