Willard W. Sharp, M.D., Ph.D., F.A.C.E.P., F.A.A.E.M.

Assistant Professor of Medicine Department of Medicine
Work 5841 S. Maryland Ave MC 5068, Office: CLI L-545 Chicago, IL 60637 Work Phone: 773.702.0979 Work Fax: 773.702.3135
Photo of Willard W. Sharp, M.D., Ph.D., F.A.C.E.P., F.A.A.E.M.

Biographical Info

Research Interest

The overall goal of Dr. Sharp’s research is to understand the fundamental mechanisms that couple mitochondrial behavior with cellular energetic demand. Specifically, his lab studies how substrate limitations or increased workload of the cell are coupled with altered mitochondrial metabolism, dynamics, and biogenesis to meet these demands. These cellular principles have particular translational relevance in the setting of cardiac arrest, myocardial infarction, sepsis, and traumatic injury.

Dr. Sharp is also investigating the protective effects of mild hypothermia at the cellular and tissue level. Hypothermia is used during cardiac surgery, has been shown to improve outcomes from cardiac arrest in randomized clinical trials. While hypothermia is known to slow the utilization of ATP, Dr. Sharp’s lab has demonstrated that hypothermia also appears to specifically block known signaling pathways that regulate the mitochondria including AMPK and mTOR. Recent work by the lab also demonstrates that hypothermia regulates DRP1, a known modulator of mitochondrial fission and metabolism. Since hypothermia is one of the few clinically proven tools used to improve patient outcomes, understanding its effects on mitochondrial behavior could lead to improved pharmacological strategies for treating patients. Dr. Sharp’s work through its basic science and translational approaches has the potential for high impact discovery.

Dr. Sharp earned his undergraduate degree in biology and history at Wofford College in Spartanburg, SC. He went on to complete his Ph.D. in biomedical science at the University of South Carolina studying the role of mechanical forces in the regulation of cardiac myofibrillogenesis. After completing a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Dr. Sharp earned his medical degree from the University of South Carolina graduating Magna Cum Laude. During his medical studies, he earned a Rotarian Ambassadorial Fellowship from 2001-2002 to study gene therapy of cystic fibrosis at Oxford University, Oxford England. He completed emergency medicine residency at the University of Michigan in 2007 and is board certified.

Dr. Sharp is a former Eagle Scout and has been recognized for his efforts to resuscitate a victim of cardiac arrest in 2007 by the Canton, MI fire department. Dr. Sharp earned the young investigator award from the American Heart Association Resuscitation Science Symposium in 2008, 2009, and 2010. His work is currently funded by the NIH with a K08 award.

Honors and Awards

Best Abstract Award (Translational Medicine), Department of Medicine Janet Rowley Research Day, University of Chicago (2016)
2nd Place Open Form Category, University of Chicago Pritzker Poetry Contest (2016)
Best Abstract Award (Translational Medicine), University of Chicago Cardiology Research Day (2016)
Best Abstract Award (Basic Science), Department of Medicine Janet Rowley Research Day, University of Chicago (2017)

Featured Publications

For a complete list of publications click here:


  • M.D., 2003, University of South Carolina School of Medicine
  • Ph.D., 1994, University of South Carolina College of Medicine, Biomedical Science
  • B.S., 1989, Wofford College, Biology and History


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