The 20(+1) un­der 40: In­side the next gen­er­a­tion of biotech lead­ers

How does one de­cide who makes an “un­der 40” list? Af­ter the last nom­i­na­tions come in from staff and read­ers, we’re left to sort through hun­dreds of names, with no ob­vi­ous guide­posts for how to do so. Do we want the ba­sic sci­en­tist be­hind a ma­jor dis­cov­ery, or the ex­ec­u­tive work­ing to trans­late it in­to med­i­cines? The ven­ture cap­i­tal­ist spin­ning out a half-dozen com­pa­nies or the founder with one big idea? Lead­ers who have al­ready brought drugs in­to the clin­ic or lead­ers who seem on the cusp of it?

Ul­ti­mate­ly, we’re left with no hard-and-fast rules ex­cept that they have to be un­der 40 — and at least a few would-be names turned out to be just over — and that their sto­ries are cru­cial to un­der­stand­ing the in­dus­try to­day. Per­haps their work, if it suc­ceeds, would change med­i­cine. Or per­haps they’re be­gin­ning to push the in­dus­try, which can some­times cater to the grey-haired and pedi­greed, in­to new ar­eas, bring­ing new tech­nolo­gies to untest­ed sci­en­tif­ic ter­rain and propos­ing new ways to think about old prob­lems.

This year, End­points News has brought you lead­ers and thinkers with am­bi­tious ideas from around the world and across a mot­ley of cut­ting edge fields, peo­ple who could one day be­come house­hold names: the CEO try­ing to res­ur­rect psy­che­delics for de­pres­sion and PTSD; the aca­d­e­m­ic-turned-founder chas­ing the most no­to­ri­ous dis­ease in drug de­vel­op­ment; the pro­fes­sor’s son at­tempt­ing to build a Covid-19 vac­cine for the world.

In some cas­es, we de­cid­ed that hon­or­ing just one per­son wasn’t enough. Sci­ence is an in­ex­tri­ca­bly col­lab­o­ra­tive ef­fort and as we re­port­ed, we re­al­ized that some peo­ple’s sto­ries couldn’t be told with­out the sto­ry of the oth­er young sci­en­tist work­ing be­side them. So for the first time, we’ve in­clud­ed two dual pro­files and, as a re­sult, a 20-un­der-40 list that con­tains 21 peo­ple.

It’s a bit odd, we’ll ad­mit, but they’re two of the best sto­ries in the project — sto­ries of what two quick, hun­gry minds can do when brought to­geth­er at the right mo­ment. You won’t want to miss them or any of the oth­ers. And un­like the last two years, we’ve in­clud­ed video snip­pets from each of the in­ter­views, to re­al­ly give a sense of who they are.

Ja­son Mast

Endpoints News

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