Beginning of Science's Understanding of Telomeres and Discovery of Telomerase
In 1978, Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn first described telomeres' molecular DNA structure; in 1985 she discovered telomerase; and in 2009 was awarded the Nobel Prize for the discovery of how chromosomes are protected by telomeres and the enzyme telomerase.
Discovery of Linkage between Telomere Length and Aging
In 1990, Dr. Calvin Harley discovered that telomere shortening is directly linked with the aging process.
Discovery of Linkage between Telomere Length and Mortality
In 2003, Dr. Richard Cawthon discovered the telomere length in people aged 60 years or older is a predictor of remaining survival.
Telomeres, Cell Aging and Psychological Stress
In 2004, Blackburn and her senior postdoctoral fellow Dr. Jue Lin, and behavioral medicine researcher Dr. Elissa Epel, found there is a relationship between psychological stress and cell aging.
Stress Directly Linked to Telomere Length
In 2004, Dr. Epel published a landmark study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showing that women who experience chronic stress from caring for their chronically ill and disabled children have shorter telomeres. Their research discovered that the longer the period of stress, the shorter the women's telomeres and the lower their levels of telomerase.
Critical Tools for Ongoing Telome Study Optimized and Refined
Dr. Lin has optimized and improved the precision of high-throughput telomere length and telomerase assays, which has facilitated the ability to examine small differences in telomere length in large clinical studies.