Dr Scott Cohen, Senior Research Scientist, has been studying the biochemistry and structure of human telomerase since he joined CMRI in 2003. Dr Cohen trained in organic chemical synthesis and biochemistry, obtaining his PhD in Chemistry from the prestigious California Institute of Technology (Caltech). He then moved to the University of Colorado to carry out postdoctoral research in the laboratory of Nobel Laureate Professor Tom Cech, where he developed methods to produce semi-synthetic RNA enzymes (ribozymes) and study their structure and conformational dynamics. Dr Cohen’s expertise with RNA provided an excellent foundation for human telomerase, an RNA-protein enzyme complex.
In 2007 Dr Cohen published a landmark paper in the journal Science describing the composition of the human telomerase complex, proposing the enzyme as a functional dimer. Establishing the enzyme’s composition filled a significant knowledge gap in the field and has enabled more advanced research activities including enzymology and electron microscopy, which are ongoing in the Cell Biology Unit.