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Now Available: Innovators Under 35 2013 See The 2013 List »

John Harrington, 34

Medicine

Athersys

Growing up in the shadow of Amgen in Thousand Oaks, CA, and then working in the company’s labs during college, John Harrington saw what it takes to succeed in biotech’s upper echelon. He kept that in mind when he founded Cleveland-based Athersys in 1994, then worked 18 hours a day to build it while still a postdoc. During that time Harrington coinvented the first man-made human chromosome; gene therapists are now investigating how to use such artificial chromosomes to penetrate cells and repair disease-causing genes. In his academic work, Harrington discovered fen1,a DNA-cutting enzyme that can accelerate the spread of cancers. Athersys is pursuing drugs that inhibit fen1 because they have the potential to treat cancer, alone or with chemotherapy. Athersys’s 130 employees are also commercializing Harrington’s most recent invention, a process called “random activation of gene expression,” which unveils the functions of proteins and could be an important tool in medical research and therapy. Athersys investors seem happy with Harrington’s creations and his ability to go all out: since 2000 they have chipped in $90 million.

2002 TR35 Winners

Ewan Birney

Biotechnology

Fiona Brinkman

Biotechnology

Chris Burge

Biotechnology

Benjamin Cravatt

Biotechnology

Nathaniel David

Biotechnology

Susan Hagness

Medicine

Derek Hansford

Materials

J. Joseph Kim

Medicine

Steven Laken

Medicine

Kelvin Lee

Medicine

Milan Mrksich

Materials

Stephen OConnor

Biotechnology

Alexander Olek

Biotechnology

Vijay Pande

Biotechnology

Stephen Quake

Materials

David Sabatini

Biotechnology

John Santini

Medicine

David Schaffer

Medicine

Christoph Westphal

Biotechnology

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