Nobel Prize in medicine shared by 3 U.S. scientists for DNA work

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Oct. 19, 2009

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Three U.S.-based researchers won the 2009 Nobel Prize in medicine for work on cell division and aging. The three scientists sharing the $1.4 million prize are: Elizabeth H. Blackburn, PhD, University of California, San Francisco; Carol W. Greider, PhD, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Maryland; and Jack W. Szostak, PhD, Harvard Medical School in Massachusetts.

The trio won for their 1980s work showing how chromosomes are protected against degradation by DNA particles called telomeres through an enzyme called telomerase. As a cell divides, telomeres get shorter. The process is known to contribute to cancer and cellular aging, said Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD, director of the National Institutes of Health, which has awarded the three grants of $32 million over 30 years.

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