The Dr. Erik B. and Mrs. Joyce D.C. Young Lecture

"Telomerase and the regulation of telomere length equilibrium"

Carol Greider

2009 Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine
Daniel Nathans Professor and Director, Department of Molecular Biology & Genetics, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Bloomberg Distinguished Professor, Department of Biology, Johns Hopkins University


Telomeres are conserved structures that protect chromosome ends in eukaryotes. Telomeres shorten with cell division, and this shortening is counterbalanced by telomerase, which adds telomere repeats onto chromosome ends. The disruption of telomere length maintenance is associated with both cancer and age-related disease. Inappropriate elongation of telomeres can allow the continued growth of cancer cells. On the other hand, insufficient telomere maintenance causes a spectrum of disease in humans including bone marrow failure, pulmonary fibrosis and immune senescence, collectively known as telomere syndromes. The mechanism that establishes and maintains telomere length equilibrium is not fully understood. This equilibrium involves the regulated recruitment of telomerase and the regulated dissociation of telomerase from the telomere end at the appropriate time in the cell cycle. We use yeast and mouse models to dissect the conserved underlying mechanism that establishes the telomere length equilibrium. A sophisticated understanding of these mechanisms will allow new approaches to treat telomere-mediated disease.


About the Speaker
Carol Greider received a B.A. from UC Santa Barbara in 1983 and a Ph.D. in 1987 from UC Berkeley. In 1984, together with Elizabeth Blackburn, she discovered telomerase, an enzyme that maintains chromosome ends. In 1988, Greider was appointed as a Fellow at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, and in 1994 was promoted to investigator. In 1997, she moved to the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. In 2004, she was appointed as the Daniel Nathans Professor and director of the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics at Johns Hopkins University. Greider’s lab currently studies telomeres and telomerase in cancer and age-related degenerative disease. Greider shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Blackburn and Jack Szostak in 2009.