Nobel Laureate Elizabeth Blackburn to Receive 2012 American Institute of Chemists (AIC) Gold Medal

March 30, 2012 - Philadelphia

The American Institute of Chemists (AIC) has announced Elizabeth H. Blackburn, Morris Herzstein Professor of Biology and Physiology in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), will receive the 2012 AIC Gold Medal. It will be presented at the Chemical Heritage Foundation (CHF) during Heritage Day on Thursday, 12 April 2012. Heritage Day is CHF’s annual celebration of achievement in the chemical and molecular sciences.

“The AIC Gold Medal was the first major prize in chemistry awarded to a woman, Mabel Garvan in 1929,” said David Manuta, AIC president. “At Heritage Day 2012 we will present the AIC Gold Medal for the first time to a woman who is also a Nobel laureate. It is a great honor for us to add the name Elizabeth Blackburn to the roll of 87 great chemists who have received the AIC Gold Medal over the past eight decades.”

About Elizabeth H. Blackburn

Elizabeth H. Blackburn is a leader in the area of telomere and telomerase research. She discovered the molecular nature of telomeres—the ends of eukaryotic chromosomes that serve as protective caps essential for preserving the genetic information—and the ribonucleoprotein enzyme telomerase. Blackburn and her research team at UCSF are working with various cells, including human cells, with the goal of understanding telomerase and telomere biology.

Blackburn earned B.Sc. (1970) and M.Sc. (1972) degrees from the University of Melbourne, and a Ph.D. (1975) from the University of Cambridge. She did her postdoctoral work in molecular and cellular biology at Yale University.

In 1978 Blackburn joined the faculty at the University of California, Berkeley, in the Department of Molecular Biology. In 1990 she joined the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at UCSF, where she served as department chair from 1993 to 1999. She is also a nonresident fellow of the Salk Institute.

Throughout her career Blackburn has been honored by her peers as the recipient of many prestigious awards. She was elected president of the American Society for Cell Biology for 1998. Blackburn is an elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1991), the Royal Society of London (1992), the American Academy of Microbiology (1993), and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2000).

In 1993 she was elected foreign associate of the National Academy of Sciences and in 2000 as a member of the Institute of Medicine. She was awarded the Albert Lasker Medical Research Award in Basic Medical Research (2006). In 2007 she was named one of Time’s “100 Most Influential People,” and she is the 2008 North American laureate of the L’Oreal−UNESCO Award for Women in Science.

In 2009 Blackburn was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

About the AIC Gold Medal

First awarded by the American Institute of Chemists (AIC) in 1926, and jointly awarded with CHF since 2003, the Gold Medal is the AIC’s highest award. It recognizes service to the science of chemistry and to the profession of chemist or chemical engineer in the United States. Previous winners include eleven Nobel laureates as well as other renowned researchers and engineers representing many facets of the world of chemistry. Medalists include Alfred Bader, Arnold O. Beckman, Paul Berg, Herbert C. Brown, F. Albert Cotton, Carl Djerassi, Walter Gilbert, Harry B. Gray, Ralph F. Hirschmann, Roald Hoffmann, Robert L. McNeil, Jr., Glenn T. Seaborg, Oliver Smithies, Max Tishler, and George M. Whitesides


About the American Institute of Chemists (AIC)

Founded in 1923, the American Institute of Chemists advances the chemical sciences by establishing high professional standards of practice and emphasizing the professional, ethical, economic, and social status of its members for the benefit of society as a whole. The AIC engages in a broad range of programs for professional enhancement through the prestigious Fellow membership category, an awards program, certification programs, and meetings.


About the Chemical Heritage Foundation

The Chemical Heritage Foundation fosters an understanding of chemistry’s impact on society. An independent nonprofit organization, CHF strives to:
• Inspire a passion for chemistry;
• Highlight chemistry’s role in meeting current social challenges; and
• Preserve the story of chemistry and its technologies and industries across centuries.

CHF maintains major collections of instruments, fine art, photographs, papers, and books. We host conferences and lectures, support research, offer fellowships, and produce educational materials. Our museum and public programs explore subjects ranging from alchemy to nanotechnology.

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