Lacy MedalTHE LACY MEDAL AWARD LECTURE
The Lacy Medal Award is named for Dr. Paul Eston Lacy, a pathologist who pioneered islet transplantation in the treatment of diabetes at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO.
7Th Annual Lacy Medalist: Geoffrey W. Sharp, Ph.D.
"From the Artic to Bangladesh to the Islet"
Thursday, May 22, 2014
4:45 - 5:45 pm
Dr. Sharp was born in Yorkshire, educated at Doncaster Grammar School and Nottingham University where he graduated at 19.
His Ph.D. was done without a supervisor or mentor and was based on circadian rhythms. The work was performed during the first of two expeditions that he led to the Arctic island of Spitsbergen to take advantage of the 24 hour daylight and the ability to impose dark-light cycles at will.
In 1960 he left his lectureship at Nottingham University for a post-doctoral fellowship at the Middlesex Hospital Medical School in London and two years later came to the US for another post-doctoral position at the Massachusetts General Hospital. At the MGH he worked with Alexander Leaf, a great scientist, clinician and administrator, and a wonderful human being.
Dr. Sharp's research at that time was largely on the mode of action of aldosterone on transepithelial Na+ transport, with some studies on the actions of antidiuretic hormone and prostaglandins.
In 1970, he moved by accident into studies on the mode of action of cholera toxin when one of his students was about to join the NIH and go to work on cholera in Bangladesh. A few weeks after their discussions on the topic he showed that cholera toxin acted via the stimulation of adenylyl cyclase and continued to study cholera toxin for some time afterwards.
Islet studies also came about by accident! After planning a sabbatical leave in Bangladesh, the plans were dashed by the India/Pakistan war. At short notice he sought another sabbatic site. Albert Renold’s Institut de Biochimie Clinique was suggested to him and though he knew nothing about islets or diabetes he applied and was accepted at the Institute.
This sabbatic lasted essentially for two years, but was extended for another 8 years as he flew to Geneva for stays of 2 – 3 weeks five or six times a year. He has studied b-cell and islet function ever since.
The Geneva connection ended in 1978 because of time constraints when he became chairman of the Physiology Department at Tufts University Medical School.
Only two years later, in 1980, he left Tufts and moved to Cornell University where he had the exciting opportunity to build a new Department of Pharmacology from scratch. Two years later he took on the additional responsibility of Director of the Division of Biological Sciences.
He has enjoyed sabbatic leaves with Albert Renold (Geneva), Yannick Le Marchand Brustel (Nice), Mark Dunne (Sheffield) and Reinhard Jahn (Gottingen).