Area of expertise: Molecular Biology
Major contributions: Carol Widney Greider discovered the enzyme telomerase when she was a graduate student of Elizabeth Helen Blackburn. They pioneered the study on the structure of telomeres, which protects the chromosome. Along with Jack W. Szostak and Blackburn, they discovered that telomeres are protective from shortening by the enzyme.
A professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine’s Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Greider was awarded the Richard Lounsbery Award by the National Academy of Sciences in 2003.
- 2003 – Richard Lounsbery Award
- 2006 – Lasker Award
- 2007 – Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize
- 2009 – Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (Shared with Elizabeth Blackburn and Jack Szostak)
- 2019 – Pinnacle Award from Association for Women in Science
Carol Widney Greider is a pioneering molecular biologist and Nobel laureate who has made significant contributions to our understanding of the role of telomeres in the aging process. Born in 1961, Greider received her bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of California, Santa Barbara and later earned her PhD in molecular biology from the University of California, Berkeley.
Throughout her career, Greider has focused on studying telomeres, which are structures that protect the ends of chromosomes. In the 1980s, she worked as a graduate student in the laboratory of Elizabeth Blackburn, where they discovered that telomeres shorten with each cell division and that this process is linked to the aging process. They also discovered an enzyme called telomerase, which is responsible for maintaining telomere length and preventing chromosomal damage.
In 2009, Greider and Blackburn were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their work on telomeres and telomerase. They were the first female duo to receive the award and Greider was the youngest woman to receive the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
In addition to her research, Greider has also been an influential mentor and advocate for diversity and inclusion in the scientific community. She has served as a role model for aspiring scientists and has worked to promote the participation of women and underrepresented groups in science.
Greider’s contributions to the field of molecular biology have had a profound impact on our understanding of the role of telomeres in the aging process and the potential for telomerase to be used as a therapeutic target for age-related diseases. Her dedication to scientific research and her advocacy for diversity and inclusion in the scientific community have inspired countless others to pursue careers in science and work to advance our understanding of the world.