Berkeley Graduate Lectures presents Carol Greider, 2009 Nobel Prize Recipient, Daniel Nathans Professor and Director of Molecular Biology and Genetics at Johns Hopkins University

How Can Telomeres Cause Age-Related Disease?

March 04, 2014 — 4:10 PM
International House Auditorium, 2299 Piedmont Avenue, Berkeley

Telomeres are located at the ends of chromosomes and are needed to protect chromosome ends. Due to the way chromosomes are copied, these telomeres shorten with each round of cell division. This shortening is kept in check by the enzyme telomerase which elongates telomeres. However because of the limited amount of telomerase, telomere shorten with age in humans. People whose cells cannot effectively elongate telomeres may show manifestations of a Telomere Syndrome, which include age-related diseases such as bone marrow failure, immune senescence and pulmonary fibrosis. We will discuss how the seemingly benign structure on chromosome ends can underlie human disease.

Telomeres & Telomerase: Past, Present, and Future

March 05, 2014 — 4:10 PM
International House Auditorium, 2299 Piedmont Avenue, Berkeley

Telomeres were first recognized in the late 1930s as important structures on chromosome ends. In the 1970s the sequence of these structures was identified in the ciliated protozoa Tetrahymena by Elizabeth Blackburn. In the 1980s telomerase was discovered as an enzyme that elongates telomeres and compensates for natural telomere shortening. We will discuss the journey from these curiosity driven discoveries to the appreciation of the role of telomeres in human disease.

About Carol Greider

Carol GreiderCarol Greider is internationally renowned for her important contributions to the field of molecular biology. She was awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize for Physiology of Medicine along with Elizabeth Blackburn and Jack W. Szostak for their discovery that genetic sequences known as telomeres are protected from progressive shortening by the enzyme telomerase. Greider discovered telomerase in 1984 while working with Elizabeth Blackburn at the University of California, Berkeley. Telomeres are essential to chromosome maintenance and stability. In the absence of telomerase, telomeres shorten progressively as cells divide, eventually leading to cell death or cellular senescence. Greider’s breakthrough discovery of the telomerase enzyme thus allowed a mechanistic understanding of cellular reproduction, opening new avenues of research into cancer, and age-related disease.