Phillip Allen Sharp
Sharp with the Winthrop-Sears Medal in 2007
Born (1944-06-06) June 6, 1944 (age 80)
Alma mater
Ann Holcombe
(m. 1964)
Scientific career
Doctoral students
External videos
video icon Meet Phillip Sharp: "What we were able to discover was that in human cells and in many other cells of higher-order organisms, the genes come in discontinuous segments", MIT

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".[2][3][4][5][6][7] He has been selected to receive the 2015 Othmer Gold Medal.[8]

Sharp's current research focuses on small RNAs and other types of non-coding RNAs. His laboratory works to identify the target mRNAs of microRNAs (miRNAs), and has discovered a class of miRNAs that are produced from sequences adjacent to transcription start sites. His laboratory also studies how miRNA gene regulation functions in angiogenesis and cellular stress.[9][10][11][12]


Sharp was born in Falmouth, Kentucky, the son of Kathrin (Colvin) and Joseph Walter Sharp.[13] He married Ann Holcombe in 1964, and they have three daughters.[14]

Sharp studied at Union College and majored in chemistry and mathematics, afterwards completing his Ph.D. in chemistry at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1969.[15] Following his Ph.D., he did his postdoctoral training at the California Institute of Technology until 1971, where he studied plasmids.[16] Later, he studied gene expression in human cells at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory as a senior scientist under James D. Watson.[16]

In 1974, he was offered a position at MIT by biologist Salvador Luria.[16] 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 founder and director of the McGovern Institute for Brain Research from 2000 to 2004.[15] In 1995, the FBI confirmed that Sharp received a letter from Ted Kaczynski, insinuating that Sharp would become a target of the Unabomber because of his work in genetics, stating that "it would be beneficial to your health to stop your research in genetics."[17]

He is currently MIT Institute Professor and Professor of Biology Emeritus and member of the Koch Institute, and was an Institute Professor, MIT's highest faculty rank, since 1999.[15] He is also the chair of the advisory board of the MIT Jameel Clinic.[18][19] Sharp co-founded Biogen, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, and Magen Biosciences, and has served on the boards of all three companies.[20]

Awards and honors

Phillip Sharp with George W. Bush, at the National Medal of Science awards in 2006.

In addition to the Nobel Prize, Sharp has won several notable awards, including the 2004 National Medal of Science,[21] the 1999 Benjamin Franklin Medal for Distinguished Achievement in the Sciences of the American Philosophical Society,[22] the Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement in 1981,[23] and the 1988 Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize from Columbia University together with Thomas R. Cech.[24]

Sharp is an elected member of several academic societies, including the American Academy of Arts and Sciences,[25] the American Association for the Advancement of Science,[26] the National Academy of Sciences,[27] and the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies.[28] He was elected a Foreign Member of the Royal Society (ForMemRS) in 2011.[29][30] In 2012, he was elected the president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.[31] He is also a Member and Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board of Fidelity Biosciences Group; a member of the Board of Advisors of Polaris Venture Partners; chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board and member of the Board of Directors of Alnylam Pharmaceuticals; advisor and investor at Longwood and Polaris Venture Funds; a member of the Boards of Directors at Syros Pharmaceuticals and VIR Biotechnology; and member and Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board at Dewpoint Biotechnology.

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

Other activities

In October 2010, Sharp participated in the USA Science and Engineering Festival's Lunch with a Laureate program where middle and high school students got to engage in an informal conversation with a Nobel Prize-winning scientist over a brown-bag lunch.[32] Sharp is also a member of the USA Science and Engineering Festival's Advisory Board.[33] In 2011, he was listed at #5 on the MIT150 list of the top 150 innovators and ideas from MIT.[34]

He is an editorial advisor to Xconomy,[35] and is a member of the Board of Scientific Governors at The Scripps Research Institute.[36] He has also served on the Faculty Advisory Board of the MIT-Harvard Research Journal and MIT Student Research Association.[15]

In 2016, Sharp helped organize[37][38] the Laureates Letter Supporting Precision Agriculture, written to oppose efforts by Greenpeace to ban GMOs and Golden Rice in particular.

Selected publications

See also


  1. ^ The Official Site of Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize
  2. ^ "The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1993". Nobel Media. Retrieved November 12, 2014.
  3. ^ Sharp, P (2011). "Q&A: Phillip Sharp on biomedical convergence". Cancer Discovery. 1 (5): 370. doi:10.1158/2159-8290.CD-ND11-08. PMID 22586619.
  4. ^ Musgrave, E (2010). "Advancing science across the disciplines: An interview with Nobel Laureate Phillip A. Sharp, PhD". Clinical and Translational Science. 3 (3): 69–70. doi:10.1111/j.1752-8062.2010.00197.x. PMC 5350715. PMID 20590673.
  5. ^ Sharp, P. A.; Sharp, P (2005). "Phillip Sharp discusses RNAi, Nobel Prizes and entrepreneurial science". Drug Discovery Today. 10 (1): 7–10. doi:10.1016/S1359-6446(04)03329-X. PMID 15676292.
  6. ^ Shampo, M. A.; Kyle, R. A. (2004). "Phillip Sharp--Nobel Prize for discovery of "split genes"". Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 79 (6): 727. doi:10.1016/s0025-6196(11)62621-9. PMID 15182083.
  7. ^ Raju, T. N. (2000). "The Nobel chronicles. 1993: Richard John Roberts (b 1943) Phillip a Sharp (b 1944)". Lancet. 355 (9220): 2085. doi:10.1016/s0140-6736(05)73547-9. PMID 10885388. S2CID 53265935.
  8. ^ "Othmer Gold Medal". Science History Institute. Retrieved February 4, 2015.
  9. ^ Autobiography at the Nobel site
  10. ^ Sharp's Research at MIT Archived December 6, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ Thackray, Arnold; Brock, David C.; Ashiya, Mona (November 20, 2003). Phillip A. Sharp, Transcript of Interviews Conducted by Arnold Thackray, David C. Brock, and Mona Ashiya at Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, Massachusetts on 28 January, 29 May, and 20 November 2003 (PDF). Philadelphia, PA: Chemical Heritage Foundation.
  12. ^ "The Koch Institute: Phillip A. Sharp". Retrieved February 11, 2020.
  13. ^ "Joseph W. Sharp -- Woodhead Funeral Home, Falmouth, KY". Archived from the original on October 28, 2014. Retrieved October 8, 2013.
  14. ^ "Phillip A. Sharp - Biographical". Nobel Media AB. Retrieved November 12, 2014.
  15. ^ a b c d "Curriculum Vitae - Phillip A. Sharp, Ph.D." Sharp Lab. Retrieved November 12, 2014.
  16. ^ a b c "Short Bio - Phillip A. Sharp". Sharp Lab. Retrieved November 12, 2014.
  17. ^ "The Communiques of Freedom Club". The Anarchist Library. Retrieved 2021-06-24.
  18. ^ "Regina Barzilay, James Collins, and Phil Sharp join leadership of new effort on machine learning in health". MIT News | Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 3 October 2018. Retrieved November 13, 2020.
  19. ^ "People". J-Clinic. Retrieved November 13, 2020.
  20. ^ Biogen Idec, Inc. (2008). "Proxy statement for annual meeting of stockholders to be held on June 19, 2008 at 9:00 A.M., local time", 7.
  21. ^ "The President's National Medal of Science Recipient Details - Phillip A. Sharp". National Science Foundation. Retrieved November 12, 2014.
  22. ^ "Benjamin Franklin Medal for Distinguished Achievement in the Sciences Recipients". American Philosophical Society. Retrieved November 27, 2011.
  23. ^ "Golden Plate Awardees of the American Academy of Achievement". American Academy of Achievement.
  24. ^ "The Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize for Biology or Biochemistry". Columbia University Medical Center. Retrieved November 12, 2014.
  25. ^ "Alphabetical Index of Active Members" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. November 5, 2013. Retrieved November 12, 2014.
  26. ^ "Fellows". American Association for the Advancement of Science. Archived from the original on July 27, 2014. Retrieved November 12, 2014.
  27. ^ "Phillip A. Sharp". National Academy of Sciences. Retrieved November 12, 2014.
  28. ^ "Directory: IOM Member - Phillip A. Sharp, Ph.D." Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. Archived from the original on November 12, 2014. Retrieved November 12, 2014.
  29. ^ "Professor Philip Sharp ForMemRS". London: Royal Society. Archived from the original on October 6, 2015.
  30. ^ "Royal Society". Royal Society. Retrieved March 20, 2010.
  31. ^ "Phillip A. Sharp, Molecular Biologist and Nobel Laureate, Chosen to Serve as AAAS President-Elect". American Association for the Advancement of Science. March 13, 2012. Retrieved November 12, 2014.
  32. ^ "Lunch with a Laureate". Archived from the original on April 21, 2010. Retrieved December 9, 2010.. (2010)
  33. ^ Furthermore, Sharp participates in the Distinguished Lecture Series of the annual Research Science Institute (RSI), a summer research program for high school students held at MIT. Advisors Archived April 21, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  34. ^ "MIT 150: The Top 50". Retrieved November 12, 2014.
  35. ^ "About". Retrieved November 12, 2014.
  36. ^ "Board of Scientific Governors". The Scripps Research Institute. Retrieved November 12, 2014.
  37. ^ Answers, G. M. O. "Dear Greenpeace: It's Time To Stand Up For Science". Forbes. Retrieved 2024-05-03.
  38. ^ MacDonald, Fiona (2016-06-30). "107 Nobel Laureates Just Signed a Letter Slamming Greenpeace Over GMOs". ScienceAlert. Retrieved 2024-05-03.