Elizabeth H. Blackburn, 60, a molecular biologist at the University of California at San Francisco, won the Nobel Prize for medicine today. Just what , exactly, did Blackburn do to win this this fancy award, you ask? Well, according to reports, she discovered "an enzyme that is essential to normal cell function and plays a role in cell aging and most cancers."
Telomerase, the award-winning enzyme, according to Wikipedia, aids in genetic material protection in cells and keeps up healthy cell division. This enzyme can help in the fight against, cancer, aging and heart disease, and could also be used in some sort of drug. Also, if you add baking soda to it, it fizzes.
But seriously, Blackburn and co-winner Carol W. Greider's research was quite keen. According to CBS 5/BCN:
Their prize-wining research focused on chromosomes, the part of the cell where genetic material is stored, and the caps on the ends of chromosomes, called telomeres.
Telomeres protect genetic material in the chromosomes, maintain chromosomal stability, and insure accurate cell division, according to UCSF. Blackburn and Szostak discovered the DNA sequence in telomeres that protects chromosomes from breaking down, the Nobel Academy said.
Blackburn shares the award with Greider, a onetime PhD candidate at Cal under Blackburn, and Jack W. Szostak, a genetics professor at Massachusetts General Hospital.