STEM Supremes: In Conversation with Elizabeth Blackburn
Thursday, March 18, 2021, 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM EDT
The New York Academy of Sciences
Join us in conversation with the queen of telomeres: Australian-American scientist Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn. Light years on from her early work sequencing the DNA of pond scum, 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 took on US President George W. Bush on the political flashpoint of federal funding for stem cell research, 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. Her 2017 New York Times Bestseller, “The Telomere Effect: A Revolutionary Approach to Living Younger, Healthier, Longer”, revealed how sleep quality, exercise, diet, chronic stress, and even the neighborhood you live in can impact the length of our telomeres and, in turn, our genetic heritage.
Our conversation will also explore Blackburn’s teenage fascinations with science, the anxieties of transitioning from graduate student to independent investigator, and the cultural and gender barriers she encountered along the way. A champion of diversity and inclusion in the sciences, Blackburn will speak to tangible actions academic leaders can take today to better support parents, particularly women, as they navigate the competing demands of family and a research career. Looking towards the future, we’ll discuss what excites her on the horizon of aging research, her view of the Biden-Harris administration as an ally to the scientific community, and her vision for a global, cooperative approach to science through her stewardship of the Lindau Declaration 2020 on Sustainable Cooperative Open Science.
Dr. Blackburn earned her B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees from the University of Melbourne, and her Ph.D. 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. Blackburn is currently Professor Emerita, Biochemistry and Biophysics, UC San Francisco.
To learn more about the complete STEM Supremes Series, please visit: www.nyas.org/STEMsupremes.