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.