Perkin Elmer’s final buy had been a Cambridge, Massachusetts, firm known as PerSeptive Biosystems, a protein-analysis enterprise began by Lebanese-born wunderkind Noubar Afeyan seven years earlier, when the ink was nonetheless moist on his Ph.D. from MIT. Afeyan had bought his firm to Perkin Elmer for nearly $400 million. The deal had but to be finalized, and formally talking Afeyan wasn’t but a Perkin Elmer worker. However he was on the assembly in Foster Metropolis, too. Like Lipe and Barrett, he shared White’s imaginative and prescient of “transferring up the meals chain” and entering into the genetic info enterprise. However like them, he didn’t actually have a transparent thought how that was to be achieved.
It was Afeyan, the newcomer, who first mentioned the phrases. The pinnacle of the multicapillary-machine manufacturing workforce was winding up a presentation on the instrument’s design and capability. There have been twenty-odd folks across the desk, discussing such issues as pricing, prices, and advertising and marketing technique. This was the primary time Afeyan had heard that the undertaking even existed. He was taking some notes and idly performing some calculations. “, with sufficient of those machines, we might sequence the entire human genome,” he remarked. A couple of folks chuckled on the notion, and the dialogue returned to severe matters. However now Hunkapiller was hunched over his yellow pad, scribbling. After a minute he appeared up. “He’s proper,” he mentioned. “Who’s proper?” requested White. “Noubar. With 200 machines, we might sequence the human genome in three years.” Most individuals within the room hardly knew Noubar Afeyan, however they knew Michael Hunkapiller. He wouldn’t interrupt a severe dialogue apart from one thing much more severe.
That’s from James Shreeve’s The Genome War, right here is more detail from the NYT in 1999, and for the pointer I thank Patrick Collison. In fact that’s the identical Afeyan Noubar who co-founded Moderna and now chairs it, right here is my earlier CWT with him.