Fotis Kafatos is a man in love with his work. Twenty-five years ago, he opted to be in his Harvard lab instead of at home celebrating Christmas; he wanted to see if a new dot-hybridization procedure had developed as he hoped. (It did.) Today, Kafatos, 63, has not lost his drive: While working to decipher the genome of a mosquito that transmits malaria, Anopheles gambiae, he is busy running the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, a consortium of 17 countries that is interdisciplinary by nature, and design. He took over in 1993.

Science, he says, is his passion. "Being a scientist, for me, is an existential need. I would not have survived as EMBL director-general if I did not have a very active lab."

Did you accept the EMBL offer quickly?
I did make the decision fairly fast, although I have to say I was perfectly happy at Harvard. I told...


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