Carol W. Greider

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Carolyn Widney Greider
Carol Greider 2009-01.JPG
Greider at Campus Westend of Goethe University Frankfurt in 2009
Born (1961-04-15) April 15, 1961 (age 53)
San Diego, California, United States
Residence Davis, California
Santa Barbara, California
Berkeley, California
Baltimore, Maryland
Nationality American
Fields Molecular biology
Institutions Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
Education University of California, Santa Barbara (B.A. 1983)
University of California, Berkeley (Ph.D. 1987)
Thesis Identification of a specific telomere terminal transferase activity in Tetrahymena extracts (1985)
Doctoral advisor Elizabeth Blackburn
Other academic advisors Beatrice M. Sweeney
David J. Asai
Leslie Wilson
Known for Discovery of telomerase
Notable awards Richard Lounsbery Award (2003)
Lasker Award (2006)
Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize (2007)
Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (2009)
Spouse Nathaniel C. Comfort (m. 1993; div. 2011)
Children 2

Carolyn Widney "Carol" Greider (born April 15, 1961) is an American molecular biologist. She is Daniel Nathans Professor and Director of Molecular Biology and Genetics at Johns Hopkins University.[1] She discovered the enzyme telomerase in 1984, when she was a graduate student of Elizabeth Blackburn at the University of California, Berkeley. Greider pioneered research on the structure of telomeres, the ends of the chromosomes. She was awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, along with Blackburn and Jack W. Szostak, for their discovery that telomeres are protected from progressive shortening by the enzyme telomerase.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Greider was born in San Diego, California.[3] Her father, Kenneth Greider, was a physics professor.[4] Her family moved from San Diego to Davis, California, where she spent many of her early years and graduated from Davis Senior High School in 1979. Despite being dyslexic,[5] she graduated from the College of Creative Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, with a B.A. in biology in 1983. During this time she also studied at the University of Göttingen and made significant discoveries there.[6]

Discovery of telomerase[edit]

She completed her Ph.D. in molecular biology in 1987 at the University of California, Berkeley, under Elizabeth Blackburn. While at UC Berkeley, Greider co-discovered telomerase, a key enzyme in cancer and anemia research, along with Blackburn.

Greider joined Blackburn's laboratory in April 1984, and took on a project Blackburn considered intimidating: finding the enzyme that was hypothesized to add extra DNA bases to the ends of chromosomes. Without the extra bases, which are added as repeats of a six base pair motif, chromosomes are shortened during DNA replication, eventually resulting in chromosome deterioration and senescence or cancer-causing chromosome fusion. Blackburn and Greider looked for the enzyme in the model organism Tetrahymena thermophila, a fresh-water protozoan with a large number of telomeres. Blackburn reports that Greider approached the research with diligence, often working twelve-hour shifts in the lab.[7]

On Christmas Day, 1984, Greider first obtained results indicating that she had found the responsible enzyme. An additional six months of research led Greider and Blackburn to the conclusion that they had, indeed, identified the enzyme responsible for telomere addition. They published their findings in the journal Cell in December, 1985.[8] The enzyme, originally called "telomere terminal transferase," is now known as telomerase.

Subsequent career[edit]

Greider then completed her postdoctoral work, and also held a faculty position, at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Long Island, New York. During this time, Greider, in collaboration with Ronald A. DePinho, produced the first telomerase knockout mouse, showing that although telomerase is dispensable for life, increasingly short telomeres result in various deleterious phenotypes, colloquially referred to as premature aging. In the mid-1990s, Greider was recruited by Michael D. West, founder of biotechnology company Geron (now CEO of BioTime) to join the company's Scientific Advisory Board.[9] She resigned from the cooperation in 1994 in a disagreement over how Geron marketed telomere research. She next moved on to a faculty position at the Johns Hopkins University in 1997, where she remains employed. Greider is the Daniel Nathans Professor and the Director of Molecular Biology and Genetics at the Johns Hopkins Institute of Basic Biomedical Sciences.

Personal life[edit]

Greider married Nathaniel C. Comfort, a fellow academic, in 1992. She has two children. Greider separated from Comfort in 2009.[10] In 2010, Greider filed for divorce and the separation was finalized in 2011.[11][12][13]

Awards and honors[edit]

Selected works[edit]

  • Greider, C. W. & Blackburn, E. H. (1985). "Identification of a specific telomere terminal transferase activity in Tetrahymena extracts". Cell 43 (2 Pt. 1): 405–413. doi:10.1016/0092-8674(85)90170-9. PMID 3907856. 
  • Greider, C. W. & Blackburn, E. H. (1996). "Telomeres, Telomerase and Cancer". Scientific American: 92–97. 

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Carol Greider". Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Retrieved June 9, 2011. 
  2. ^ "Blackburn, Greider, and Szostak share Nobel". Dolan DNA Learning Center. Retrieved 2009-10-05. 
  3. ^ Hopkins “Telomere” expert Carol Greider shares Germany's largest science prize
  4. ^
  5. ^ An Index of Successful Dyslexics
  6. ^ Press release, University of Göttingen (9 December 2009). (German)
  7. ^ Nuzzo, R. (2005). "Biography of Carol W. Greider". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 102 (23): 8077–8079. Bibcode:2005PNAS..102.8077N. doi:10.1073/pnas.0503019102. PMC 1149435. PMID 15928079.  edit
  8. ^ Greider, C. W.; Blackburn, E. H. (1985). "Identification of a specific telomere terminal transferase activity in Tetrahymena extracts". Cell 43 (2 Pt 1): 405–413. doi:10.1016/0092-8674(85)90170-9. PMID 3907856.  edit
  9. ^ "Geron Corporation 10K 1996". 
  10. ^ Govoni, Paola; Franceschi, Zelda, eds. (May 14, 2014). Writing about Lives in Science: (Auto)Biography, Gender, and Genre. Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. p. 242. ISBN 9783847002635. 
  11. ^ Baltimore City Circuit Court via Maryland Judiciary Case Search
  12. ^ Trucks, Rob. "#134: CAROL GREIDER". Retrieved February 20, 2015. 
  13. ^ Talbott, Clint (March 2010). "‘Having it all’ plus ‘doing it all’". Colorado Arts & Sciences Magazine (Boulder, Colorado: University of Colorado Boulder). Retrieved February 20, 2015. 
  14. ^ "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter B". American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved June 9, 2011. 
  15. ^ "Greider, Carol W.". National Academy of Sciences. Retrieved June 9, 2011. 
  16. ^ NAS Online ("For her pioneering biochemical and genetic studies of telomerase, the enzyme that maintains the ends of chromosomes in eukaryotic cells.")
  17. ^ "Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2009". Nobel Foundation. Retrieved 2009-10-05. 
  18. ^ "IOM Class of 2010". Institute of Medicine. Retrieved June 9, 2011. 
  19. ^ "Carson, Hopkins Colleagues Named to Institute of Medicine". October 11, 2010. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Media related to Carol Greider at Wikimedia Commons