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Celebrating Nobel Women in Science October 8, 2009

Posted by Connie Chow in women in science.

Speaking of role models. Hooray about the Nobel Prizes in science. We’re up to 15 women who’s won a prize in physics, chemistry or physiology/medicine since 1901. (I only counted Marie Curie once).

First, two women, Carol Greider and Elizabeth Blackburn, and their male colleague (name intentionally left out!) received the Prize in Physiology/Medicine for discovering what I used to call naively the elixir of life–the enzyme telomerase–since the shortening of telomeres, which they also discovered, contribute to aging. The irony is that overactive telomerase contributes to cancer.

I remember being fascinated by Greider’s talk years ago when I was in grad school because she was so young! (And she is only 48 now). Greider was a grad student in Blackburn’s lab.

Second, not only is the ribosome my second favourite organelle (the proteasome holds a very special place in my heart), but Ada Yonath is the first woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 45 years (??!! Dorothy Hodgkin received the prize in 1964, also for her work in X-ray crystallography). Truth be told, I don’t think I ever read a paper by Yonath. Tom Steitz, yes. Then again, I don’t read a lot of papers on crystallography.

Both Elizabeth Blackburn and Ada Yonath were recognized in 2008 through the L’OREAL-UNESCO For Women in Science Award for their work. (Now here’s another group of excellent female role models in science).

Both prizes only goes to show that RNA rules!



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