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UCSF's Elizabeth Blackburn Delivers Nobel Lecture

By Jeffrey Norris, UCSF Public Affairs | December 9, 2009

What does TTAGGG spell? If you're human, it might spell long life.

That's the sequence of DNA building blocks that keeps our cells ticking. The sequence bears repeating, and the more it repeats, the healthier we may be. In some populations loss of this DNA from key cells is associated with poor health and earlier death.

In Stockholm, Sweden on Monday, UCSF's Elizabeth Blackburn, PhD, along with two fellow scientists with whom she will share the 2009 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, described discoveries leading to October's award announcement, including the first-ever identification of one of these key DNA sequences.

The Nobel laureates also discussed what their discoveries and ongoing research tells us about health, cancer and aging. The lectures are part of a weeklong series of events that will culminate with Thursday's award ceremony.

Blackburn, along with Carol Greider, PhD, of Johns Hopkins University, and Jack Szostak, PhD, from Harvard Medical School, will be awarded the prize on Thursday for discoveries that have led to an understanding of how the cells of organisms ranging from protozoans to people are equipped to defend the integrity of their genetic blueprints through many generations of cell divisions.

Read more at Jeffrey Norris, UCSF Public Affairs