L’Oréal Laureates win Nobel Prizes in Medicine and Chemistry

Media releases, Women in Science

Two former L’Oréal Laureates have won 2009 Nobel Prizes.

Australian-born US scientist Elizabeth Blackburn shares the 2009 Nobel Prize in Medicine with fellow US researchers Carol W. Greider and Jack W. Szostak “for the discovery of how chromosomes are protected by telomeres and the enzyme telomerase.”

From the official announcement:

This year’s Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine is awarded to three scientists who have solved a major problem in biology: how the chromosomes can be copied in a complete way during cell divisions and how they are protected against degradation. The Nobel Laureates have shown that the solution is to be found in the ends of the chromosomes – the telomeres – and in an enzyme that forms them – telomerase.

The long, thread-like DNA molecules that carry our genes are packed into chromosomes, the telomeres being the caps on their ends. Elizabeth Blackburn and Jack Szostak discovered that a unique DNA sequence in the telomeres protects the chromosomes from degradation. Carol Greider and Elizabeth Blackburn identified telomerase, the enzyme that makes telomere DNA. These discoveries explained how the ends of the chromosomes are protected by the telomeres and that they are built by telomerase.

Elizabeth was awarded the 2008 L’Oréal-UNESCO Prize For Women in Science for North America.

And Israeli scientist Ada Yonath shares the 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with UK researcher Venkatraman Ramakrishnan and US researcher Thomas A. Steitz “for studies of the structure and function of the ribosome.”

From the official announcement:

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry for 2009 awards studies of one of life’s core processes: the ribosome’s translation of DNA information into life. Ribosomes produce proteins, which in turn control the chemistry in all living organisms. As ribosomes are crucial to life, they are also a major target for new antibiotics.

This year’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry awards Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, Thomas A. Steitz and Ada E. Yonath for having showed what the ribosome looks like and how it functions at the atomic level. All three have used a method called X-ray crystallography to map the position for each and every one of the hundreds of thousands of atoms that make up the ribosome.

Ada was awarded the 2008 L’Oréal-UNESCO Prize For Women in Science for Europe.

More information on the Nobel Prizes and their winners can be found at

http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/medicine/laureates/2009/ and


And for L’Oréal Laureate information: http://www.forwomeninscience.com