* Discovery Lecture Series
* Nobel Prize
* Oncological Sciences Center
* Purdue Cancer Center
* Discovery Park
* Bindley Bioscience Center
* Lilly Endowment

August 20, 2008

Nobel Laureate in genetics, cancer to speak at Purdue's Discovery Lecture Series

Phillip Sharp
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Nobel Laureate Phillip A. Sharp, an American biochemist and molecular biologist who co-discovered gene splicing, is the keynote speaker for Purdue University's Discovery Lecture Series event on Sept. 12.

The lecture, sponsored by Discovery Park's Oncological Sciences Center, Purdue Cancer Center and other units at Purdue, begins at 3:30 p.m. in Stewart Center's Fowler Hall. Sharp's lecture, "The Roles of Short RNAs in Cancer and Biology," is free and open to the public.

Sharp is institute professor and faculty member at Massachusetts Institute of Technology's David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research. He shared the 1993 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Richard J. Roberts for his landmark work on the molecular biology of gene expression relevant to cancer and the mechanisms for splicing ribonucleic acid (RNA).

"Dr. Sharp's discovery of genes that were broken up into
Marietta Harrison
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discontinuous segments changed the standing theory that genes were continuous stretches of DNA. It revolutionized the field," said Marietta Harrison, director of the Oncological Sciences Center and professor of medicinal chemistry and molecular pharmacology. "This opened up a new field in cancer research and could provide us with a tool to disrupt the expression of certain harmful genes within an organism."

Sharp's work led to the discovery of a new genetic process called RNA splicing, a process that can be thought of as film editing where unwanted frames are cut out and the remaining film is spliced back together.

Scientists today now know that some of the estimated 5,000 hereditary diseases are because of errors in the splicing process, including a type of leukemia.

"The Discovery Lecture Series at Purdue will give me a timely opportunity to discuss the recent advances in research relating small RNAs to cancer and the potential treatment of diseases," Sharp said. "Recognition that RNA is critical in controlling gene expression has revolutionized our understanding of biological systems. And I know this is the goal of Purdue and the strides it is making in cancer research."

Sharp, whose institute professor title is the highest ranking academic post at MIT, received the National Medal of Science from President Bush in 2006 and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine. During his career, Sharp has published more than 360 research papers.

He earned a bachelor's degree from Union College, Ky., and his doctorate in chemistry from the University of Illinois. He is cofounder of Biogen (now Biogen Idec) and Alnylam Pharmaceuticals and serves on the boards of both companies.

The Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment provided a $1 million gift to Purdue's Discovery Park in 2005 to sponsor the ongoing Discovery Lecture Series. Sharp was invited to speak on campus by Philip S. Low, Purdue's Ralph C. Corley Distinguished Professor of Chemistry.

About Oncological Sciences Center:

The center integrates broad areas of research in life sciences, liberal arts, engineering and chemical sciences and functions as the Discovery Park arm of the Purdue Cancer Center. The Discovery Park center has established strategic research partnerships with the Walther Cancer Institute, and the Indiana University Simon Cancer in Indianapolis.

About Purdue Cancer Center:

The center is one of just seven National Cancer Institute-designated basic-research facilities in the nation. Established in 1976, the center is working to identify new molecular targets and design future agents and drugs for effectively detecting and treating cancer.

About Discovery Park:

Purdue's hub for translational interdisciplinary research, Discovery Park is home to 11 research centers focusing on areas such as life sciences, advanced manufacturing, the environment and cancer care to health-care engineering, entrepreneurship, nanotechnology and energy.

Writers: Phillip Fiorini, (765) 496-3133,

Elizabeth Gardner, (765) 494-2081,

Sources: Phillip Sharp, (617) 253-6421,

Marietta Harrison, (765) 494-1442,

Timothy Ratliff, (765) 494-9129,

Philip Low, (765) 494-5273,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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