Phillip Sharp appointed to Whitehead Board of Directors

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (May 11, 2005)—Phillip Sharp, Nobel laureate and founding director of the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has been named to the Board of Directors of Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research.

“I am very pleased to welcome Phil Sharp to the Whitehead Board,” says Alex d'Arbeloff, chairman of the Whitehead Board of Directors. “Phil’s standing in the academic community and the biotech industry is outstanding. He is a great addition to our Board.”

“Whitehead Institute is among the leading research organizations in biomedical science and I am proud to have the opportunity as a Board member to help it continue this outstanding record of accomplishments,” says Sharp.

Much of Sharp’s scientific work has occurred at MIT’s Center for Cancer Research, which he joined in 1974 and directed from 1985 to 1991, after which he became chair of the Biology Department from 1991 to 1999.

Sharp’s landmark achievement was the 1977 discovery of RNA splicing. This provided one of the earliest indications of “discontinuous genes” in mammalian cells (genes contain “nonsense” segments that cells edit out when they produce protein). Sharp’s research opened an entirely new area in molecular biology and forever changed the field. For this work he shared the 1993 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

The author of more than 300 scientific papers, Sharp serves on many scientific committees, including the National Cancer Institute’s Advisory Board. His honors and awards include 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 a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society.

Sharp is also an Institute Professor at MIT, a title reserved for those few individuals who have “demonstrated exceptional distinction by a combination of leadership, accomplishment and service in the scholarly, educational and general intellectual life of the Institute or wider academic community.” There are currently only 15 Institute Professors at MIT, and another one, Robert Langer, also serves on Whitehead’s Board of Directors.



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