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Willem "Pim" Stemmer

Stemmer is an engineer, albeit not your typical kind. He’s what you might call a bio-therapeutics engineer, using the human body’s own molecular building blocks to create new and better pharmaceuticals. To this end, he invented a technology known as DNA shuffling, where related genes from various species are combined in new ways to create novel genes and thus novel proteins. Stemmer co-founded Maxygen Incorporated in 1997 to commercialize this technology, and he oversaw the successful development of a dengue fever vaccine, as well as an immune system enhancer. Another of his engineered molecules led to the founding of the Avidia Research Institute, which developed a novel treatment for Crohn’s disease while Stemmer was with the firm. He’s now CEO of Amunix, which he co-founded in 2005.