Paul Sharp (Institute of Evolutionary Biology), elected Fellow of the Royal Society, London - Many congratulations!

Many congratulations to Professor Paul Sharp, in the Institute of Evolutionary Biology and member of Edinburgh Infectious Diseases, on his recent election as a Fellow of the Royal Society (London).

Also elected to Fellowship of the Royal Society from the University of Edinburgh in 2013 are Professor Bill Earnshaw from the Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell Biology, School of Biological Sciences, and Professor Sir John Savill, Vice Principal and Head of the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine.


Paul Sharp started his academic career in Edinburgh, completing his PhD in the Deparment of Genetics in 1982.  After lectureships at Trinity College Dublin and the Unviersity of Texas, Houston, he was appointed Professor of Genetics in Nottingham in 1993.  He then returned to Edinburgh in 2007 as Professor of Genetics in the Institute of Evolutionary Biology.

Paul was elected to membership of the European Molecular Biology Organization 1992, and the Royal Irish Academy 1993, and served as President of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution in 2008


Paul Sharp is an international leader in the field of molecular evolution. He was a pioneer in the exploitation of DNA sequence databases to obtain insights into the evolutionary process. His early work was especially important in establishing widely-used measures of codon usage bias, and providing evidence that natural selection acts on mutations that do not alter protein sequences. He went on to study the evolution of HIV sequences; his work has been of seminal importance in establishing the date of origin of HIV, and its transmission from chimpanzees to humans. Most recently, he has shown that the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum comes from gorillas.

Paul's current research explores the evolution of viruses and bacteria:

  • Viral evolution: what are the origins of human viruses, and what factors influence their genetic diversity?  A particular focus has been the origins and evolution of AIDS viruses.
  • Bacterial evolution: what do bacterial genome sequences tell us about evolution? Two particular areas involve the evolution of synonymous codon usage bias, and the evolution of repetitive sequence families.
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