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Phillip A. Sharp

This article is about the American geneticist. For other people, see Philip Sharp.
Phillip Allen Sharp
Sharp in 2009
Born (1944-06-06) June 6, 1944 (age 70)
Falmouth, Kentucky
Nationality American
Fields Biologist
Institutions Caltech
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Alma mater Union College
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Doctoral students Andrew Fire
Notable awards Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (1993), National Medal of Science (2004)
Spouse Ann Holcombe

Phillip Allen Sharp (born June 6, 1944) is an American geneticist and molecular biologist who co-discovered RNA splicing. He shared the 1993 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Richard J. Roberts for "the discovery that genes in eukaryotes are not contiguous strings but contain introns, and that the splicing of messenger RNA to delete those introns can occur in different ways, yielding different proteins from the same DNA sequence".


Sharp was born in Falmouth, Kentucky, the son of Kathrin (Colvin) and Joseph Walter Sharp.[1] He studied at Union College and majored in chemistry and mathematics. He completed his Ph.D. in chemistry at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1969. After completing his Ph.D., he worked at the California Institute of Technology until 1971, where he studied plasmids and, later, gene expression in human cells at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory under James Dewey Watson.

In 1974, he was offered a position at MIT by biologist Salvador Luria. He was director of MIT's Center for Cancer Research (now the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research) from 1985 to 1991; head of the Biology department from 1991 to 1999; and director of the McGovern Institute for Brain Research from 2000 to 2004. He is currently a professor of Biology and has been an Institute Professor since 1999; he is also a member of the Koch Institute. Sharp co-founded Biogen (now part of Biogen Idec), Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, and Magen Biosciences, and serves on the boards of all three companies.[2] He is an editorial advisor to Xconomy, and is a member of the Board of Scientific Governors at The Scripps Research Institute.


In 1988 he was awarded the Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize from Columbia University together with Thomas R. Cech. And in 1999 he received the Benjamin Franklin Medal for Distinguished Achievement in the Sciences of the American Philosophical Society.[3]

Pendleton County, Kentucky — Sharp's birthplace — named its current middle school after him.

In Oct 2010 Sharp will be participating in the USA Science and Engineering Festival's Lunch with a Laureate program where middle and high school students will get to engage in an informal conversation with a Nobel Prize winning Scientist over a brown bag lunch.[4] Sharp is also a member of the USA Science and Engineering Festival's Advisory Board.[5] In 2011, he was listed at #5 on the MIT150 list of the top 150 innovators and ideas from MIT. Sharp has served on the Faculty Advisory Board of the MIT Harvard Research Journal and MIT Student Research Association.

In 2011 he was elected a Foreign Member of the Royal Society of London. [6]

Private life

Sharp married Ann Holcombe in 1964. They have three daughters.

Awards And Nominations

Double Helix Medal

  • 2006: CSHL Double Helix Medal Honoree

RNA Society Lifetime Achievement Award

  • 2013

Selected publications

See also

References and external links

  • Autobiography at the Nobel site
  • Sharp's Research at MIT
  • The Phil Sharp Lab
  • The Official Site of Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize

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