Digital Collections

Oral history interview with Phillip A. Sharp

  • 2003-Jan-28
  • 2003-May-29
  • 2003-Nov-20
Photograph of Phillip A. Sharp
Phillip A. Sharp

Phillip A. Sharp's interview begins with a discussion of his family. He details his genealogy, from his great grandparents to his current extended family. Sharp then discusses his childhood in Falmouth, Kentucky, near Cincinnati, Ohio. After graduating from Falmouth High School, Sharp attended Union College, where he met his wife, Ann Holcombe. He received his BA in chemistry and math from Union College in 1966. Then, Sharp went on to earn his PhD in chemistry from the University of Illinois. Sharp went to Caltech initially for his post-doctoral studies, but after three years he joined James Watson's virology lab at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory to learn more about cell biology research. In 1974, Sharp accepted an invitation to join the research team at the newly created Center for Cancer Research at MIT. In 1977, Sharp and Richard J. Roberts discovered split genes, which led to the discovery of RNA splicing. This was a significant discovery for which Sharp and Roberts shared the Nobel Prize in 1993. Phillip Sharp worked his way up through the ranks of MIT's administration, eventually becoming head of the biology department and director of the Center for Cancer Research. Moreover, Sharp was instrumental in the establishment of one of the first biotech companies, Genentech, Inc. He also worked with a team of researchers to establish Biogen, Inc. In 2000, Sharp became the director of the McGovern Institute for Brain Research. Sharp concludes the interview with reflections on his rapid rise through MIT's administration and the significance of the neuroscience research community that currently surrounds and includes Harvard University.

Access this interview

By request 1 PDF Transcript File and 18 Audio Recording Files

Fill out a brief form and a staff member will review your request for these files. You should receive an email within 3 business days.

Usage is subject to restrictions set by the interviewee.

If you have any questions about transcripts, recordings, or usage permissions, contact the Center for Oral History at

PDF — 283 KB