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Nobel laureates 'thrilled' by top honour

world Updated: Oct 05, 2009 19:20 IST
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US scientist Carol Greider found out she was one of this year's three Nobel Medicine Prize laureates while doing the laundry, she told Swedish public radio SR on Monday.

"I was just thrilled, I just think the recognition for curiosity-driven basic science is very, very nice," she said from the eastern United States.

"I was awake, I wake up early anyway, I was doing the laundry when the phone call came" from the Nobel committee in Stockholm, she said.

Greider, who teaches at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and whose name had been mentioned as a possible winner in the run-up to the announcement, added it had been suggested to her that she could receive a call from the Swedish capital early Monday.

She was preparing her children's breakfast when Swedish radio called to interview her.

But her fellow laureate, Australian-American Elizabeth Blackburn, was still sleeping when the Nobel committee called her in San Francisco, where it was about 2:30 am (0930 GMT) when the news became public.

"I was indeed (asleep). In fact, I think I'm still sleeping, sometimes I think I'm dreaming," she told SR.

Blackburn and Greider, along with American Jack Szostak, were awarded the Nobel prize for identifying a key molecular switch in cellular ageing.

The trio were honoured for the discovery of how chromosomes are protected by telomeres and the role of an enzyme called telomerase in maintaining or stripping away this molecular shield.

"We'd been hunting for this enzyme and when the first clear signs of it appeared ... I thought 'this is very interesting, this is a very important result,' and you don't often feel that about a result," Blackburn said.

Szostak was overjoyed when speaking to SR from his home in Boston.

He explained that the Nobel committee's call had woken him up, even though he had considered the "not very likely" possibility an early morning call could come from Sweden.

"I said (to my wife) it'll probably come at around 5:30 am, but it came much earlier so I was still sound asleep," he said, a chuckle in his voice.