Elizabeth Blackburn, PhD, Named President of the Salk Institute

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Elizabeth Blackburn, PhD

Elizabeth Blackburn, PhD, has been named President of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.

Dr. Blackburn will join the Salk Institute from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), where she is Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics. She will assume her new role effective January 1, 2016.

As Salk’s president, Dr. Blackburn will be responsible for leading scientists in fields such as cancer, neuroscience, aging, and plant biology.

“Few scientists garner the kind of admiration and respect that Dr. ­Blackburn receives from her peers for her scientific accomplishments and her leadership, service, and integrity,” said Irwin M. Jacobs, ScD, Chairman of Salk’s Board of Trustees.

A Career of Discovery and Service

Dr. Blackburn won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2009 for discovering the molecular nature of telomeres and for codiscovering telomerase. Both telomeres and telomerase are thought to play central roles in aging and diseases such as cancer, and her work helped launch entire new fields of research in these areas.

Dr. Blackburn is a member of numerous prestigious scientific societies, including the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine, and the Royal Society of London.

She has shown an abiding commitment to public service in the scientific, academic, and public policy arenas. She has served as President of both the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) and the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) and has served on the editorial boards of several scientific journals, including Cell and Science.

Dr. Blackburn was a member of the Stem Cell Research Advisory Panel for the California State Legislature, and a member of the President’s Council of Bioethics, an advisory committee to the President of the United States.

Since 2001, Dr. Blackburn has served as a Salk nonresident fellow, one of a group of leading scientists who advise the Institute’s leadership and play key decision-making roles in the appointment and promotion of Salk professors.

She earned her doctorate in molecular biology from the University of Cambridge in England. She conducted postdoctoral research at Yale University. Dr. Blackburn joined the faculty of the University of California, Berkeley, and then moved to the University of California, San Francisco, where she was a past Chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology. ■