Phillip A. Sharp to present 2004 Ullyot Public Affairs Lecture at Chemical Heritage Foundation

10/13/04

Nobel laureate, successful entrepreneur, and prolific researcher, Phillip Sharp has forged a career spanning medicine, molecular biology, and biotechnology

PHILADELPHIA -- 12 October 2004 -- Phillip A. Sharp, Institute Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), will present the 2004 Ullyot Public Affairs Lecture at the Chemical Heritage Foundation (CHF). The lecture will begin at 6:00 p.m. on 18 November in the Ullyot Meeting Hall. A reception will follow at 7:00.

"Untold numbers of people around the world owe their lives and health to Phil Sharp's work," said Arnold Thackray, CHF's president. "Dr. Sharp combines deep originality of mind with unusual gifts of vision, perseverance, and diplomacy. He is not only a Nobel laureate and cofounder of a leading biotech company, but also a major architect of MIT's central importance in the life sciences. We eagerly anticipate learning from his insights when he comes to CHF in November."

Sharp's lecture, "Chemistry, RNA Interference, and Biotechnology: Perspectives and Prospects," is presented by the Chemical Heritage Foundation, the Philadelphia and Delaware Sections of the American Chemical Society, the Department of Chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania, and the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia.

About Phillip A. Sharp

Since joining MIT in 1974, Sharp has played a major role in the emergence of the institute (and of Cambridge, Massachusetts) as a world leader in the biomolecular sciences and technologies. He was director of its Center for Cancer Research from 1985 to 1991 and chair of the Department of Biology from 1991 to 1999. He served as founding director of the McGovern Institute at MIT from its establishment in 2000 until recently. In 1999 he was named Institute Professor, a title given to a small number of faculty with extraordinary records of achievement.

Sharp codiscovered 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. Sharp's research opened an entirely new area in molecular biology and forever changed the field. For this work he was awarded the 1993 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

Sharp is cofounder of Biogen (now Biogen Idec) and a member of its board of directors. He also cofounded Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, where he serves on the board of directors and chairs the scientific board.

A native of Kentucky, Sharp earned his B.A. from Union College in his home state, followed by a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Illinois at Urbana. He has authored more than 300 scientific papers and served on many scientific committees, including the National Cancer Institute's Advisory Board and the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. He has been a member of the Sloan Foundation Board of Trustees, the Ludwig Institute Scientific Advisory Board, the Massachusetts General Hospital Board of Trustees, and the Scientific and Medical Advisory Board of the Huntsman Cancer Foundation. In addition to the Nobel Prize, his work has been honored with the Benjamin Franklin Medal of the American Philosophical Society, the Alfred P. Sloan, Jr., Prize for Cancer Research, the Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize, and the Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award, among others. He received the Biotechnology Heritage Award from CHF in 2002, along with his Biogen cofounder, Walter Gilbert. Sharp is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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