A veterinary pathologist’s odyssey out of academia to become CEO of one of Europe’s hottest startups

On the wall of Keith McCullagh’s office hangs a framed picture showing one of his company’s advertisements. “British biotechnology has come a long way since 1953,” says the legend above a picture of Francis Crick and James Watson, the discoverers of the double helix structure of DNA.

For McCullagh, the snappy slogan has a double meaning. As it happens, British Biotechnology Ltd. is the name he grandiosely— and perhaps playfully—gave his stunningly successful startup back in December of 1986. And indeed, both British biotechnology at large and the little company that aims to epitomize it have come a long way in what for each of them is a very short time.

In just 18 months, BBL has come from a venture capital dream to one of Europe’s fastest growing biotechnology companies—perhaps the fastest—with capitalization...

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