See Inside October 2011

Actuary of the Cell: A Q&A with Nobelist Elizabeth Blackburn on Telomeres and Aging Cells

Building on her Nobel Prize-winning research on cell function, Elizabeth H. Blackburn is trying to find a simple measure of a person's health risks

Photograph by Cody Pickens

Big Picture: Blackburn has extended her Nobel Prize–winning work on telomeres to develop measures that aim to assess overall risks for heart disease, cancer and other chronic illnesses.

A molecular timepiece that resides inside each cell still makes headlines, decades after Elizabeth H. Blackburn conducted pioneering studies into how it works. The most recent experiments by Blackburn and other researchers have demonstrated that these cellular clocks, known as telomeres, may act as barometers of whether a person will remain healthy or not.

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