“Telomarese lies at the heart of cells’ self-renewal”
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Elizabeth Blackburn won the Nobel Prize in medicine for her discovery of Telomarese, the enzyme that replenishes the telomere (a protective structure at the end of chromosomes). Her work has huge implications for the study of cancer and human longevity. Extracts from a Walk the Talk interview with Shekhar Gupta, aired on NDTV 24x7 on February 16, 2009.
Shekhar Gupta: If stem cells, cloning, cancer research, molecular biology are considered the frontier areas of today's medical science, then my guest this week is its superstar. In fact, she's been called the queen of that business. Professor Elizabeth Blackburn, welcome to Walk The Talk.
Elizabeth Blackburn: Thank you. I'm thrilled to be here.
Shekhar Gupta: You have an added distinction, you've been fired by President Bush.
Elizabeth Blackburn: For just doing what I do, which is to say "get the science right, get the science right." That wasn't a very popular attitude in the Commission or the Council that I was serving on as an advisor.
Shekhar Gupta: The Commission on Bioethics.
Elizabeth Blackburn: The President's Council on Bioethics, a federal commission whose mandate is to advise on National Science policy. So I thought it was very important to get at least the science right, and then one makes decisions after that. So it was very interesting and I believe, quite characteristic of other aspects of this past administration, that there was this wish not to get the science right and that of course is very antithetical to how scientists feel.
Shekhar Gupta: Of all the interesting possibilities we talk about, one is your own favourite enzyme — Telomerase. Tell us more about it, because you've discovered this enzyme and looks like it controls everything in our life from disease to ageing.
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