It was a mystery: how does the chromosome replicate itself precisely during repeated cell divisions without degrading over time? Structures called telomeres (the "caps" on chromosome ends) seemed to provide some clues, but their exact function was poorly understood. The solution to the puzzle, which molecular biologist Carol Greider explained to Big Think this week, won her a share of this year's Nobel Prize in Medicine.
Greider also revealed the latest directions her research has taken and the profound impact her work may soon have on cancer and anti-aging therapies. She even shared a few thoughts on one of her fellow 2009 Nobel laureates, Barack Obama. Greider's interview will be posted later this month.