The Frontiers of Biotechnology Lecture Series
"The Biology and Biotechnology of RNA Interference"
Dr. Phillip A. Sharp
Professor Phillip A. Sharp is Founding Director of the McGovern Institute at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he was named Institute Professor in 1999.
Much of Dr. Sharp's scientific work has been conducted at MIT's Center for Cancer Research, which he joined in 1974 and directed from 1985 to 1991. He subsequently led the Department of Biology from 1991 to 1999 before assuming the directorship of the McGovern Institute in 2000. His research interests have centered on the molecular biology of gene expression relevant to cancer and the mechanisms of RNA splicing; his landmark achievement was the discovery of RNA splicing in 1977. This work provided one of the first indications of the startling phenomenon of "discontinuous genes" in mammalian cells. The discovery that genes contain nonsense segments that are edited out by cells in the course of utilizing genetic information is important in understanding the genetic causes of cancer and other diseases. Dr. Sharp's research opened an entirely new area in molecular biology and forever changed the field. For this work he received the 1993 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
Dr. Sharp has authored over 300 scientific papers and serves on many scientific committees, including the National Cancer Institute's Advisory Board, which he chaired for two years (2000- 2002), the Sloan Foundation Board of Trustees, and the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research. His work has been honored with numerous awards including the Gairdner Foundation International Award, General Motors Research Foundation Alfred P. Sloan, Jr. Prize for Cancer Research, Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize and Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award. He is elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society.
A native of Kentucky, Dr. Sharp earned a B.A. degree from Union College, KY, and a PhD in chemistry from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana in 1969. He did his postdoctoral training at the California Institute of Technology, where he studied the molecular biology of plasmids from bacteria in Professor Norman Davidson's laboratory. Prior to joining MIT, he was Senior Scientist at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.
Dr. Sharp is co-founder of Biogen, Inc., (http://www.biogen.com), 1978, Chairman of the Scientific Board (to 2002) and Member of the Board of Directors. He is also co-founder of Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, (http://www.alnylam.com), 2002, where he serves as Chairman of the Scientific Board and is a member of the company's Board of Directors.