Labs Get Down to Business

MAURICE WEISS/OSTKREUZ for TIME

GENE GENIES: Max Planck's Simons, left, and Cenix's Echeverri

Before Christophe Echeverri decided to spin off his postdoctoral project into a biotech company called Cenix BioScience, in 1999, he hesitated, fearing the switch from lab coat to business suit was a "move over to the dark side." Echeverri had been invited to turn the research he was doing at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg into a commercial venture under the well-endowed wing of the Max Planck Institute, Germany's élite scientific research body. Echeverri didn't hesitate long, seeing the opportunity as a once-in-a-lifetime chance to prove that his theories actually worked. So when the new Max Planck Institute of...

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