Othmer Gold Medal

Phillip Sharp

Phillip Sharp

2015 Medalist: Phillip Sharp

Phillip Sharp, Institute Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a faculty member of the Department of Biology and the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, received the 2015 Othmer Gold Medal at Heritage Day, May 14, 2015.

Sharp joined the Center for Cancer Research (now the Koch Institute) in 1974 and served as its director for six years, from 1985 to 1991, before taking over as head of MIT’s Department of Biology, a position he held for the next eight years. More recently, he was founding director of the McGovern Institute, a position he held from 2000 to 2004. Sharp is also a cofounder of Biogen (now Biogen Idec) and Alnylam Pharmaceuticals Inc.

His research interests have centered on the molecular biology of gene expression relevant to cancer and the mechanisms of RNA splicing. His landmark work in 1977 provided the first indications of “discontinuous genes” in mammalian cells. The discovery fundamentally changed scientists’ understanding of gene structure and earned Sharp the 1993 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

Sharp has authored over 400 papers. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the Royal Society. Among his many awards are the Gairdner Foundation International Award, the Lasker Basic Medical Research Award, and the National Medal of Science. He presented the 2004 Ullyot Public Affairs Lecture at CHF. His long list of service includes the presidency of the AAAS (2013) and chairman of its board (2014), and chair of the Scientific Advisory Committee of Stand Up to Cancer (SU2C).

Sharp earned a BA degree from Union College, in Barbourville, Kentucky, and a PhD in chemistry from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

About the Othmer Gold Medal

The Chemical Heritage Foundation (CHF) established the Othmer Gold Medal in 1997 to honor outstanding individuals who have made multifaceted contributions to our chemical and scientific heritage through outstanding activity in such areas as innovation, entrepreneurship, research, education, public understanding, legislation, or philanthropy.

The medal is presented annually and cosponsored by CHF and four affiliated organizations: the American Chemical Society (ACS), the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), The Chemists’ Club, and the Société de Chimie Industrielle (American Section). The medal commemorates Donald Othmer (1904–1995), noted researcher, consultant, editor, engineer, inventor, philanthropist, professor, and coeditor of the Kirk-Othmer Encyclopedia of Chemical Technology.

CHF gratefully acknowledges John Wiley & Sons, Inc., for donating a set of the Kirk-Othmer Encyclopedia of Chemical Technology each year to the institution chosen by the Othmer Gold Medal recipient.

About the Sponsors

The American Chemical Society (ACS) is the world’s largest scientific organization. The society was established in 1876 and chartered by the U.S. Congress in 1937 to encourage in the broadest and most liberal manner the advancement of chemistry in all its branches

The American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) is a professional, technical, and educational association. The institute was founded in 1908 and is dedicated to promoting excellence in the development and practice of chemical engineering in an ever-expanding array of disciplines

The Chemists’ Club, established in 1898, is one of the oldest and most respected chemical organizations in the country. Members are engaged in management, marketing, processing, and research and development.

The Société de Chimie Industrielle was founded in 1918 as the American Section of a Paris-based international organization. Today it operates as an independent New York–based society with a mission to work with other chemical-industry organizations and promote understanding of the chemical and allied industries. Activities include a monthly CEO forum, a scholarship program, and the International Palladium Medal awarded to an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the industry.

The Chemical Heritage Foundation (CHF)
 fosters dialogue on science and technology in society. Our staff and fellows study the past in order to understand the present and inform the future. We focus on matter and materials and their effects on our modern world in territory ranging from the physical sciences and industries, through the chemical sciences and engineering, to the life sciences and technologies. We collect, preserve, and exhibit historical artifacts; engage communities of scientists and engineers; and tell the stories of the people behind breakthroughs and innovations.


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