Carol Greider, 2009 Nobel Prize winner in Medicine, recounts how it felt to get the big call from Stockholm and predicts its future impact on her work.
Question: How did it feel to win the Nobel Prize?rn
Carol Greider: That was very exciting. It was a tremendous rnhonor to get a phone call from Stockholm and to share it with Elizabeth rnBlackburn, who I've worked with for many years, as well as Jack Szostak.rn So I was very excited, and I was very happy that I got to share the dayrn with my children. I was able to wake them up at five o'clock in the rnmorning after I got this phone call and to have them there with me to rnshare and to celebrate.rn
Question: What role did you and your co-winners each play rnin the prizewinning research?rn
Carol Greider: Yeah, Liz Blackburn and Jack Szostak had a rncollaboration in the early 1980s where they were interested in trying torn understand the function of telomeres. And they had a collaboration rnwhich was a cross-country collaboration with one in Berkeley and the rnother one in Boston. And they would call each other up on the phone and rnexplain experiments and send materials back and forth. And that rncollaboration resulted in this idea that there may be some way that the rncells have of maintaining their chromosome ends. It was known that rnchromosome ends would shorten every time a cell divided, and in doing a rncollaboration to try and understand the functional components that make rnup the telomeres they proposed that there may be an enzyme that rnlengthens telomeres. And so then when I went to graduate school at U.C. rnBerkeley and I met Liz Blackburn, that was the project—after I had rnworked on a smaller project in her lab—that was the project that I rnthought was the most exciting to follow up on and find out, is there rnreally going to be this hypothesized enzyme which can lengthen rntelomeres? So that's when I started to work with Liz Blackburn, and it rnwas together in her laboratory that we discovered the enzyme telomerase.rn
Question: How do you think the prize will affect your work?rn
Carol Greider: I don't think I can anticipate the kinds of rnchanges. Again, I never have been one to sort of think 10, 15 years out.rn I really just sort of try to follow what's exciting at the time. And itrn certainly is an honor, not just to me, but really to everybody working rnin the field of telomeres, because of course the prize is given to a rnperson for a particular discovery, but the prize wouldn't be given rnunless there were many, many, many different people working in various rnlaboratories that made it clear that that discovery was going to be rnimportant and has implications to it. So I really think that I'm sort ofrn sharing this with the telomere field in general and many of my rncolleagues.Recorded November 10th, 2009
Interviewed by Austin Allen