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

Suzie Hwang Pun, 27

Medicine

Insert Therapeutics

Think of Suzie Hwang Pun as a traffic cop for genes. The chemical engineer uses polymers to carry injected genes through the bloodstream. With a system of molecular tags, she can direct a gene—say, one that blocks cancer progression—to just the right spot—like the nuclei of cells in a tumor. It’s a trick that could solve a huge problem in gene therapy research: a new gene does no good if it doesn’t make it to the right place. While viruses are the typical delivery vehicles in gene therapy, they’re hard to manufacture and can be intercepted by the immune system. Pun’s materials avoid those problems and open the possibility of delivering drugs, as well as genes, with exquisite precision. “This is the tip of the iceberg,” says Caltech chemical engineer Mark Davis. He was so excited by Pun’s accomplishments as a graduate student in his lab that he founded Insert Therapeutics in Pasadena, CA, primarily to commercialize her work. The clear-spoken Pun jumped at the chance to be a senior scientist and employee number one. If all goes well, her technology could enter human trials within a few years.

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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