Born: 1948

Special Achievements:

In 2009, Elizabeth Blackburn became Australia’s first female Nobel Laureate. With American co-researchers Carol Greider and Jack Szostak, Elizabeth Blackburn won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for discovering how chromosomes are protected by telomeres and the enzyme telomerase. 

Elizabeth Blackburn describes her journey of discovery as starting from basic biological research on the nature of telomeres.  Telomeres cap the end of chromosomes and have a very special role in protecting our genome.  Her work has major implications for understanding how DNA affects chronic disease, cancer and ageing.      

In 2007, Blackburn was listed among Time Magazine's The TIME 100 – The People Who Shape Our World.

Additional Information:

In late 2001 Elizabeth became a member of the George W. Bush administration’s President’s Council on Bioethics. She was dismissed from the Council in 2004 owing to her efforts and advice on the research of the human embryonic stem cell.  

This was followed by expressions of outrage by many scientists who maintained that she was fired because of political opposition to her advice.  Her experience confirmed her belief that science policy be informed by good scientific evidence.


  • Image - Photo

    Elizabeth Blackburn

    Image courtesy of Elizabeth Blackburn

  • Audio - Elizabeth Blackburn

    This audio profile of Elizabeth Blackburn was produced in 2015 by 8CCC 102.1FM community radio station and the National Pioneer Women's Hall of Fame. To hear more of the Ordinary Women, Extraordinary Lives: First in their Field series, please go to http://8ccc.com.au/category/ordinary-women-extraordinary-lives/.

    Audio profile courtesy of 8CCC 102.1FM and the National Pioneer Women's Hall of Fame