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Elizabeth Blackburn has spent much of her professional life exploring the far ends of chromosomes. In 1976, she discovered that they were capped by strange repeating sequences of DNA. Her discovery of telomeres and, with colleague Carol Greider, of the telomere-making enzyme telomerase, would draw her to the center of a now-burgeoning field, telomere biology, earn her numerous awards, and, eventually-as a famously appointed-and-dismissed member of President George W. Bush's Advisory Council on Bioethics--a kind of scientific celebrity. Blackburn, the Morris Herzstein professor of biology and physiology in the department of biochemistry and biophysics at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), was born on November 26,1948, in Hobart, Tasmania. She is the subject of a recent and critically acclaimed biography, Elizabeth Blackburn and the Story of Telomeres, by Catherine Brady (1), a story that begins at the far end of the world. She spoke with me from her home in California. Catherine Brady describes you as a young woman of 17 living in Tasmania--shy with boys but very passionate about science. You were infatuated with amino acids and felt they had a "teasing beauty." What captured your imagination?