Elizabeth (Liz) H. Blackburn (b. 1948) is a professor of biology and leading researcher in the field of telomeres, the 'telomerase' enzyme, and their effect on the aging of cells and propogation of cancer. She was born in the Australian state of Tasmania, but has become a citizen of the USA.
Early life and education
Blackburn was educated in the state of Victoria at the University of Melbourne earning a B.Sc. (1970) and M.Sc. (1972), and earned her Ph.D. (1975) from the University of Cambridge in England. Her postdoctoral study in molecular and cellular biology was at Yale University (1975-1977).
In 1978, Dr. Blackburn joined the faculty at the University of California at Berkeley in the Department of Molecular Biology. In 1990, she joined the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at UC San Francisco, where she served as Department Chair from 1993 to 1999. Dr. Blackburn is currently a professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics. She is also currently a Non-Resident Fellow of the Salk Institute.
- Eli Lilly Research Award for Microbiology and Immunology (1988)
- National Academy of Sciences Award in Molecular Biology (1990)
- Honorary Doctorate of Science from Yale University (1991)
- Harvey Society Lecturer at the Harvey Society in New York (1990)
- recipient of the UCSF Women's Faculty Association Award (1995)
- Australia Prize (1998)
- Harvey Prize (1999)
- Keio Prize (1999)
- American Association for Cancer Research - G.H.A. Clowes Memorial Award (2000)
- American Cancer Society Medal of Honor (2000)
- AACR-Pezcoller Foundation International Award for Cancer Research (2001)
- General Motors Cancer Research Foundation Alfred P. Sloan Award (2001)
- E.B.Wilson Award of the American Society for Cell Biology (2001)
- California Scientist of the Year in 1999
- President of the American Society for Cell Biology for the year 1998
- Fellow of:
- Foreign Associate of the National Academy of Sciences (1993)
- Member of the Institute of Medicine (2000)
- Board member of the Genetics Society of America (2000-2002)
Blackburn was appointed a member of the President's Council on Bioethics in 2001, and fired in February 2004 reportedly for taking to task the Chairman (Professor Leon Kass) over her outspoken opposition to the removal from the council's consideration of discussion on the ethics of research on human cells. This was followed by expressions of outrage (over her removal) by many scientists.