Address by Phillip A. Sharp

An unedited transcript of Commencement 2008 remarks by Phillip A. Sharp, who received the honorary degree Doctor  of Science.

President Hansen, Mr. Bonney, faculty, fellow honorees and the graduates of Bates in 2008: It is a wonderful experience to be here and share this day of great promise with you. You are moving on into a world that needs leaders, leaders that Bates has produced over the generations, leaders who solve problems that we’re facing in climate, in energy and in health and the availability of health care, and many other problems.

Let me speak for a moment about health and health care. We are at a time in the  country when we need to expand the availability of health care to all our citizens. At the same time, we’re at a moment in history in which we have more innovation coming into health care than we’ve every had before.

Let me illustrate the last with a comment about cancer. We have reduced death to cancer, age-adjusted death due to cancer, over the last decade. It has decreased about 15 percent. We have more treatments today in development for cancer than we’ve ever had before. That rate of decrease will continue. In addition, the science that is available to promote treatments for cancer and prevention of cancer today than has ever been before. We stand at a moment in history, in which when individuals, like Sen. Kennedy, who are diagnosed with brain cancer, we can possibly offer them increasingly effective treatments that will prolong their life and possible every cure this disease.

At the moment we are challenged with bringing that innovation forward and, as well, expanding the availability of health care, which will be a major question that will be debated in the next decade, and which the graduates of this class will be leaders in that debate.

I will leave you with the great words of Thomas Edison: “Success is 1 percent inspiration; it’s 99 percent perspiration.” To the Class of 2008, start sweating!