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Dr. Phillip A. Sharp

Phillip A. Sharp, Ph.D.
Institute Professor
Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

"A New Biology for the 21st Century"

A world leader of research in molecular biology and biochemistry, Dr. Phillip A. Sharp is Institute Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Much of Dr. Sharp's scientific work has been conducted at MIT's Center for Cancer Research (now the Koch Institute), which he joined in 1974 and directed from 1985 to 1991.  He subsequently led the Department of Biology from 1991 to 1999 before assuming the directorship of the McGovern Institute from 2000-2004.  His research interests have centered on the molecular biology of gene expression relevant to cancer and the mechanisms of RNA splicing.  His landmark achievement was the discovery of 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. This discovery, which fundamentally changed scientists' understanding of the structure of genes, earned Dr. Sharp the 1993 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.  His lab has now turned its attention to understanding how RNA molecules act as switches to turn genes on and off (RNA interference).  These newly discovered processes have revolutionized cell biology and could potentially generate a new class of therapeutics.
Dr. Sharp has authored over 350 scientific papers.  He has received numerous awards and honorary degrees, and has served on many advisory boards for the government, academic institutions, scientific societies, and companies.  His awards include the Gairdner Foundation International Award, General Motors Research Foundation Alfred P. Sloan, Jr. Prize for Cancer Research, the Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award, the National Medal of Science and the inaugural Double Helix Medal from CSHL.  He is elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society.

A native of Kentucky, Dr. Sharp earned a B.A. degree from Union College, KY in 1966, and a PhD in chemistry from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana in 1969.  He did his postdoctoral training at the California Institute of Technology, where he studied the molecular biology of plasmids from bacteria in Professor Norman Davidson's laboratory.   Prior to joining MIT, he was Senior Scientist at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

In 1978 Dr. Sharp co-founded Biogen (now Biogen Idec) and in 2002 he co-founded Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, an early-stage therapeutics company.

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Juan Enriquez
Juan Enriquez

Co-founder, Synthetic Genomics Inc.
Managing Director, Excel Venture Management
"Transforming Life, Transforming Business - The Life Science Revolution"

A broad thinker who studies the intersection of science, business and society, Juan Enriquez has a talent for bridging disciplines to build a coherent look ahead. Enriquez was the founding director of the Harvard Business School Life Sciences Project, and has published widely on topics from the technical (global nucleotide data flow) to the sociological (gene research and national competitiveness), and was a member of Celera Genomics founder Craig Venter's marine-based team to collect genetic data from the world's oceans.

Formerly CEO of Mexico City's Urban Development Corporation and chief of staff for Mexico's secretary of state, Enriquez played a role in reforming Mexico's domestic policy and helped negotiate a cease-fire with Zapatista rebels. He is a Managing Director at Excel Medical Ventures, a life sciences venture capital firm, and the chair and CEO of Biotechonomy, a research and investment firm helping to fund new genomics firms. The Untied States of America, his latest book, looks at the forces threatening America's future as a unified country.

"Juan Enriquez will change your view of change itself."
Nicholas Negroponte