DALLAS – Oct. 5, 2009 – Susan G. Komen for the Cure® added its voice to those recognizing the contributions of a Komen-funded researcher who today was honored with the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
Elizabeth Blackburn, Ph.D., a molecular biologist at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), shares the award with Carol W. Greider of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Jack W. Szostak of Harvard Medical School, for work in cellular biology that has implications for understanding cancer cell growth and aging.
“Dr. Blackburn is an extraordinary scientist whose contributions have significantly advanced our understanding of fundamental questions in cancer science,” said Hala Moddelmog, president and CEO of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. “She is also an extraordinary person who brings determination and passion to her work. We are enormously pleased that her work has been recognized with the top prize in science, the Nobel Prize.”
According to UCSF, the scientists discovered an enzyme called telomerase that plays a key role in normal cell function, as well as in cell aging and most cancers. The scientists’ research sparked a whole field of inquiry into the possibility that telomerase could be reactivated to treat age-related diseases and deactivated to treat cancer, in which it generally is overactive, UCSF said.
Komen, the world’s leading breast cancer organization, partially funded Blackburn’s work in 2000 and 2004, as part of a research portfolio totaling $450 million since Komen was founded 27 years ago. “Research is critical to Komen’s mission to end breast cancer, and we are so fortunate that we’ve been able to make contributions that make breakthroughs possible,” Moddelmog said.
View the prize announcement on nobelprize.org