NEW YORK and PHILADELPHIA--4 May 2007--The Chemists' Club of New York has announced that Phillip A. Sharp, Institute Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), will receive The Chemists' Club's Winthrop-Sears Award for 2007. The award will be presented at a dinner on Thursday, 17 May 2007, at the Chemical Heritage Foundation (CHF) in Philadelphia, as part of CHF's sixth annual Heritage Day celebration.
"As a researcher, Phil Sharp's work opened an entirely new area in molecular biology and forever changed the field," said Joel W. Jones, president of The Chemists' Club. "As an entrepreneur, he is a cofounder of Biogen. As an educator, for more than three decades Sharp has been inspiring researchers that now work across the world of biotechnology."
Since joining MIT in 1974, Sharp has played a 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 2000 through 2004. 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. 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. One of the biggest scientific advances of the last decade has been RNA interference (RNAi), a natural process used by organisms from poppies to people to turn off the expression of certain genes. In 2002 Sharp cofounded Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, a biopharmaceutical company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, that is developing RNAi therapeutics.
Sharp earned his B.A. from Union College in Kentucky, followed by a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Illinois at Urbana. He has authored more than 350 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.
About the Winthrop-Sears Award
The Winthrop-Sears Award was established by The Chemists' Club in 1970 to recognize individuals who, by the entrepreneurial action, have contributed to the vitality of the chemical industry and the betterment of mankind. The award is named in honor of two of America's earliest chemical entrepreneurs, John Winthrop, Jr., and John Sears.
Previous recipients of the Winthrop-Sears Award include renowned industry figures such as Robert L. Gore, Jon M. Huntsman, Ralph Landau, George Rosenkranz, Harold A. Sorgenti, Alejandro Zaffaroni and Herbert Boyer. Last year's awardee was Sol Barer of Celgene.
About the Chemists' Club of New York
The Chemists' Club was incorporated in 1898, and provides networking opportunities for members who share interests in chemical, paper, pharmaceuticals, metals, biotech, and science-related industries. The mission statement of The Chemists' Club is "[t]o provide both a sense of community and a collaborative forum for corporate executives, entrepreneurs, academics, and others concerned with serving and supporting the growth of science-related industries." Members include chemists, chemical industry management, entrepreneurs, formulators, security analysts, attorneys, educators, and other professionals. Additional information can be found at www.thechemistsclub.com.
About the Chemical Heritage Foundation
The Chemical Heritage Foundation serves the community of the chemical and molecular sciences, and the wider public, by treasuring the past, educating the present, and inspiring the future. CHF maintains a world-class collection of materials that document the history and heritage of the chemical and molecular sciences, technologies, and industries; encourages research in its collections; and carries out a program of outreach and interpretation in order to advance an understanding of the role of the chemical and molecular sciences, technologies, and industries in shaping society.