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

Steven Laken, 30

Medicine

Exact Sciences

Deadly genetic defects often involve single- nucleotide polymorphisms—single changes in the base pairs that make up DNA. As a graduate student at Johns Hopkins University, Steven Laken discovered that such a change occurs in six percent of Ashkenazi Jews and correlates with a 20 to 30 percent risk of colon cancer. With 20 million Ashkenazi Jews potentially at risk, Laken was not satisfied with simply finding the defect; he wanted to devise a rapid test for it. He created a lab procedure that separates DNA into fragments and then uses mass spectrometry to quickly search the fragments for the polymorphism. Doctors are now using the technique to screen patients with Ashkenazi backgrounds for colon cancer. After completing his graduate work, Laken joined Maynard, MA-based Exact Sciences, where he is now adapting the innovation for broader genetic tests, including one for nonpolyposis colon cancer, the most common inherited form of the disease. Laken believes his methods could spot virtually any illness with a genetic component, from asthma to heart disease.

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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