Phillip A. Sharp served as founding director of McGovern Institute from 2000-2004. Sharp, who shared the 1993 Nobel Prize for his discovery of split genes, has also served as chair of the MIT Biology Department and head of MIT’s Center for Cancer Research (now the Koch Institute). He now holds the title of Institute Professor, the highest academic honor at MIT. As founding director of the McGovern Institute, he oversaw the planning for the institute’s home in Building 46 and the appointment of the founding faculty, including the recruitment of Robert Desimone as the permanent director in 2004.
In addition to his academic career, Sharp has also been a pioneer in the biotech industry, helping to found three companies. One of these is Biogen-Idec, whose generous support has made the Phillip A. Sharp Lecture in Neural Circuits possible. Biogen, as it was known prior to its 2003 merger with IDEC Pharmaceuticals, was one of the first biotechnology companies, and Sharp served on its board of directors for almost 30 years following its founding in 1978. During that time Biogen-Idec has been at the forefront of the biotech revolution, growing into a Fortune 500 company with over $4 billion in annual revenues. Its major current focus is now diseases of the nervous system, and we are delighted to highlight the company’s achievements and Phil’s contribution to its success through this lecture.