Elizabeth Blackburn won a Nobel Prize for her pioneering work on telomeres and telomerase, which may play central roles in how we age. She is president of the Salk Institute and author of the New York Times Best Seller, "The Telomere Effect."

Why you should listen

Dr. Blackburn is the president of the Salk Institute and a pioneering molecular biologist. She received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2009 for discovering the molecular nature of telomeres, the ends of chromosomes that serve as protective caps essential for preserving genetic information, and for co-discovering telomerase, an enzyme that maintains telomere ends. Both telomeres and telomerase are thought to play central roles in aging and diseases such as cancer, and her work helped launch entire new fields of research in these areas.

In addition to the Nobel Prize, Blackburn has received nearly every major scientific award including the Lasker, Gruber, and Gairdner prizes. She has served as president of the American Association of Cancer Research and the American Society for Cell Biology, and on editorial boards of scientific journals including Cell and Science. She coauthored the best-selling book The Telomere Effect: A Revolutionary Approach to Living Younger, Healthier, Longer.

What others say

“Few scientists garner the kind of admiration and respect that Dr. Blackburn receives from her peers for her scientific accomplishments and her leadership, service and integrity” — Irwin M. Jacobs, chair of Salk’s Board of Trustees

Elizabeth Blackburn’s TED talk

More news and ideas from Elizabeth Blackburn

Live from TED2017

The puzzle of aging: Elizabeth Blackburn speaks at TED2017

April 28, 2017

For Nobel Prize-winning biologist Elizabeth Blackburn, it all began with pond scum. She was curious about chromosomes, and specifically the caps at the ends of chromosomes, known as telomeres, and pond scum provided an ample supply for her research. Her curiosity sent her on a journey that shed light on one of humanity’s biggest, and oldest, […]

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Live from TED2017

Bugs and bodies: The talks of Session 8 of TED2017

April 27, 2017

In the eight session of TED2017, hosted by TED’s Head Curator Chris Anderson, eight speakers — and one unforgettable live jetpack demo — showed us that there’s wonder all around us, from the bugs that live in our backyards and on our skin to the dreams that live inside our minds, waiting to be unleashed. Below, […]

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Could your thoughts make you age faster?

April 26, 2017

Researchers are finding that your mental patterns could be harming your telomeres -- essential parts of the cell’s DNA -- and affecting your life and health. Nobel Prize-winning scientist Elizabeth Blackburn and health psychologist Elissa Epel explain.

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