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KCI gains two Nobel Laureates on its External Advisory Board, focusing on research

The Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute is pleased to announce two new members to its External Advisory Board, both Nobel Laureates.
Those new members are Phillip A. Sharp, Ph.D., institute professor at the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); and Harald zur Hausen, M.D., D.Sc., professor emeritus at the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg, Germany.
“It is truly an honor to have such distinguished members of the scientific community joining our External Advisory Board,” said Gerold Bepler, M.D., Ph.D., president and CEO of Karmanos.
“All members of our External Advisory Board play a critical role in strengthening our dynamic research programs. The inclusion of Dr. Sharp and Professor zur Hausen places Karmanos in an enviable position within the international cancer research community,” he said.
Karmanos’ External Advisory Board members visit annually and offer constructive critiques to Karmanos researchers to help further strengthen outstanding scientific programs, according to Dr. Bepler. 
Dr. Sharp is a world leader in molecular biology and biochemistry research. Much of his work has been conducted at MIT’s Center for Cancer Research (now the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research). He joined the center in 1974 and was named director from 1985 through 1991. Dr. Sharp led the Department of Biology from 1991 to 1999 before assuming the directorship of MIT’s McGovern Institute from 2000-2004. In 1978, Dr. Sharp co-founded Biogen (now Biogen Idec) and in 2002, he co-founded Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, an early-stage therapeutics company.
While he has enjoyed much professional success, Dr. Sharp’s landmark achievement was the discovery of RNA splicing in 1977. This ground-breaking research provided one of the first indications of the phenomenon of “discontinuous genes” in mammalian cells. His discovery that genes contain nonsense segments that are edited out by cells in the course of utilizing genetic information is important in understanding gene structure. This work earned him the 1993 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
Dr. Sharp earned his Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana in 1969. He did his post-doctoral training at the California Institute of Technology, where he studied the molecular biology of plasmids from bacteria in Professor Norman Davidson’s laboratory. Prior to joining MIT, he was a senior scientist at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.
Professor zur Hausen has a special interest in infection-induced malignancies. He and his research group demonstrated the role of papillomavirus in cervical cancer and discovered a large number of novel virus types. He received the Nobel Prize for Medicine in October 2008 for these discoveries.
Professor zur Hausen studied medicine at the Universities of Bonn, Hamburg and Dusseldorf, earning a medical degree. He did his post-doctoral work at the Institute of Microbiology in Dusseldorf, and then worked as an assistant professor in the Virus Laboratories of the Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia. He was a senior scientist at the Institute of Virology of the University of Wurzburg and from 1972, worked as chairman and professor of Virology at the University of Erlangen-Nurnberg. In 1977, he moved to a similar position at the University of Freiberg, and then from 1983 until 2003, he was appointed scientific director of the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg.
Acknowledged internationally as a successful researcher and leader, Professor zur Hausen holds 12 honorary degrees. He is also an elected member of various academies, including LEOPOLDINA, Academia Europaea, Heidelberg Academy of Sciences, the Polish Academy of Sciences, and in the United States, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Sciences.
“We are absolutely thrilled to have these two exceptional leaders and researchers from the scientific community joining our advisory board,” said Connie Claybaker, associate center director of Research Administration at Karmanos. “These two scientists will provide valuable insight into our already outstanding research programs. We look forward to interacting with these world-class innovators and know that our patients and the community will benefit from the finest cancer research that Karmanos can offer.”
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