That Nobel Feeling
Carol W. Greider is the Daniel Nathans Professor & Director of Molecular Biology & Genetics at Johns Hopkins University. Her research on telomerase (an enzyme she helped discover) and telomere function won her a 2009 Nobel Prize in Medicine. Prior to joining the Johns Hopkins faculty, she obtained a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1997, and was a faculty member at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a recipient of the 1998 Gairdner Foundation International Award.
Question: How did it feel to win the Nobel Prize?\r\n
Carol Greider: That was very exciting. It was a tremendous \r\nhonor to get a phone call from Stockholm and to share it with Elizabeth \r\nBlackburn, who I've worked with for many years, as well as Jack Szostak.\r\n So I was very excited, and I was very happy that I got to share the day\r\n with my children. I was able to wake them up at five o'clock in the \r\nmorning after I got this phone call and to have them there with me to \r\nshare and to celebrate.\r\n
Question: What role did you and your co-winners each play \r\nin the prizewinning research?\r\n
Carol Greider: Yeah, Liz Blackburn and Jack Szostak had a \r\ncollaboration in the early 1980s where they were interested in trying to\r\n understand the function of telomeres. And they had a collaboration \r\nwhich was a cross-country collaboration with one in Berkeley and the \r\nother one in Boston. And they would call each other up on the phone and \r\nexplain experiments and send materials back and forth. And that \r\ncollaboration resulted in this idea that there may be some way that the \r\ncells have of maintaining their chromosome ends. It was known that \r\nchromosome ends would shorten every time a cell divided, and in doing a \r\ncollaboration to try and understand the functional components that make \r\nup the telomeres they proposed that there may be an enzyme that \r\nlengthens telomeres. And so then when I went to graduate school at U.C. \r\nBerkeley and I met Liz Blackburn, that was the project—after I had \r\nworked on a smaller project in her lab—that was the project that I \r\nthought was the most exciting to follow up on and find out, is there \r\nreally going to be this hypothesized enzyme which can lengthen \r\ntelomeres? So that's when I started to work with Liz Blackburn, and it \r\nwas together in her laboratory that we discovered the enzyme telomerase.\r\n
Question: How do you think the prize will affect your work?\r\n
Carol Greider: I don't think I can anticipate the kinds of \r\nchanges. Again, I never have been one to sort of think 10, 15 years out.\r\n I really just sort of try to follow what's exciting at the time. And it\r\n certainly is an honor, not just to me, but really to everybody working \r\nin the field of telomeres, because of course the prize is given to a \r\nperson for a particular discovery, but the prize wouldn't be given \r\nunless there were many, many, many different people working in various \r\nlaboratories that made it clear that that discovery was going to be \r\nimportant and has implications to it. So I really think that I'm sort of\r\n sharing this with the telomere field in general and many of my \r\ncolleagues.Recorded November 10th, 2009
Interviewed by Austin Allen
Carol Greider, 2009 Nobel Prize winner in Medicine, recounts how it felt to get the big call from Stockholm and predicts its future impact on her work.
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