Even if you don't work for a company that is about to launch an initial public offering, the stock market can still be alluring as a personal investment opportunity. You know the science, so you should be able to pick the stocks, right?

Not so fast, say the experts. No matter how good the science looks, market forces and poor management can drive a promising company--and its stock price--into the ground. Good management can make an average technology profitable, and poor management can make even the most stunning science look mediocre when it hits the marketplace.

So when considering a company, see what you can find out about the history of its management and board. Have they built successful biotech companies before? Many executives have grown up along with the biotech industry and will sport a track record that could bode well for the stock.

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