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Insight & Intelligence™ : Aug 26, 2013

Life Science Superstars 40 and Under

These ten hotshots are shaking things up.
  • Alex Philippidis

One of the most striking recent developments in the evolution of the life science industry is the number of under-40 individuals who are achieving distinction very early in their careers. These eminent young investigators and executives are running research labs and biopharmaceutical companies, or dominating their specialties. Having grown up in a completely interconnected world and weaned on the internet and other modern wonders of technology, more and more young people are popping up that have the smarts, the drive, and the background to accept the challenge of running a biotech company or making new discoveries in life science that could change everything. Taking their cues from Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, their motto seems to be that vision can trump experience.

Last year, GEN brought you a list of 10 “young guns” of biopharma, 10 biopharma executives that hadn’t yet reached middle age. This year, we’re bringing you an updated list of life science leaders under 40, this time including promising researchers as well as executives. If they’re doing this much now, what will they be up to in the future?

Richard A. Bonneau, Ph.D.


Associate Professor of Biology at New York University with appointments in the Department of Biology and the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences

Dr. Bonneau’s lab is focused on two main categories of computational biology: learning networks from functional genomics data and predicting and modeling protein structure. He received a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Washington in 2001.


Ed Boyden, Ph.D.


Associate Professor of Biological Engineering and Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the MIT Media Lab and the MIT McGovern Institute

Dr. Boyden leads the Synthetic Neurobiology Group, which develops tools for analyzing and engineering the circuits of the brain. In 2005, he received a Ph.D. in neuroscience from Stanford University.


Michael Elowitz, Ph.D.


Professor of Biology and Applied Physics at the California Institute of Technology, Division of Biology

The Elowitz Lab uses synthetic biology, time-lapse movies, and mathematical modeling to study gene circuit architecture and dynamics down to the level of individual cells. Dr. Elowitz received a Ph.D. in physics from Princeton University in 1999.


Jeff George


Global Head of Sandoz

George has led Sandoz since October 2008. Prior to that, he was head of emerging markets for the Middle East, Africa, Southeast Asia, and the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States for Novartis Pharma, where he is currently a member of the Executive Committee. George received an MBA from Harvard in 2001.


Raj Krishnan, Ph.D.


Co-Founder, Co-Inventor, and CEO of Biological Dynamics

Dr. Krishnan co-founded Biological Dynamics in 2008 while he was a Ph.D. student. The company is developing blood tests that use electric fields to examine blood and detect key signals that indicate whether a patient has cancer. He earned a Ph.D. in bioengineering from University of California, San Diego in 2010.


Mika Mayer


Partner at Morrison Foerster

Mayer develops IP strategies and prosecutes patents. She is the youngest person ever to make partner at Morrison Foerster and co-founder of the nation's first practice group devoted to investor due diligence of intellectual property. She received her J.D. from Boston University School of Law in 2002.


Sarkis K. Mazmanian, Ph.D.


Professor in the Division of Biology at the California Institute of Technology

Dr. Mazmanian is a microbiologist investigating the mechanisms underlying the symbiotic relationship between hosts and their beneficial microbial partners. Recently, he found that enteric bacteria can influence the progression of immune activity in distant tissues such as the nervous system. He earned a Ph.D. in microbiology and immunology from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2002.


Amy Wagers, Ph.D.


Professor in the Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology at Harvard University

Dr. Wager’s current research is focused on defining the factors and mechanisms that regulate the migration, expansion, and regenerative potential of adult blood-forming and muscle-forming stem cells. She received a Ph.D. in immunology and microbial pathogenesis from Northwestern University in 1999.


Harris Wang, Ph.D.


Assistant Professor of Pathology and Cell Biology at Columbia University

Dr. Wang’s lab applies synthetic and systems biology approaches to design and build new microbes with novel capabilities, leveraging both engineering and evolutionary principles. He received a Ph.D. in biophysics from Harvard University in 2002.


Christian Wentz


Founder and CTO of Kendall Research Systems and also Co-Founder of Cerenova

Wentz received an M.Eng. from MIT in 2010. He was a student in Ed Boyden’s Synthetic Neurobiology Group. Kendall Research Systems is an optogenetics technology firm, and Cerenova is an implantable neurological device spin-out from the Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Neurosurgery.