Professor Philip Sharp ForMemRS

Philip Sharp is a geneticist and molecular biologist who discovered the first indications of ‘discontinuous’ or ‘split’ genes in mammalian cells and has developed techniques for RNA interference (RNAi). He also co-founded three successful biotechnology companies and shared the 1993 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Richard Roberts.

By studying messenger RNA (mRNA) in eukaryotic cells — the ‘middleman’ between DNA and protein — Philip discovered that genes contain introns. These nucleotide sequences can be removed, or ‘spliced’, from mRNA by the cell, enabling the creation of alternative proteins from the same stretch of DNA. Philip’s current research focuses on RNAi — a technique that exploits a natural mechanism whereby small RNA molecules are used to switch genes on and off.

An expert in transitioning biotechnology research into commercial applications, Philip co-founded Biogen (now Biogen Idec), Alnylam Pharmaceuticals and Magen Biosciences. A major influence in the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), he was listed number 5 among the top 150 innovators by MIT in 2011.

Subject groups

  • Biochemistry and molecular cell biology

    Biochemistry and molecular biology, Cell biology (incl molecular cell biology)

  • Microbiology, immunology and developmental biology

    Genetics (excluding population genetics)


  • Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

    Jointly with Richard J. Roberts for their discoveries of split genes.

Professor Philip Sharp ForMemRS
Elected 2011