Courtesy of Kelly Guenther
 MOLECULAR DYNAMIC DUO: David Cowburn, president and CEO at the New York Structural Biology Center, and Willa Appel, executive vice president and COO.

Ann E. McDermott, a Columbia University chemist, encountered a career crisis a little more than four years ago. Her cramped campus couldn't facilitate the kind of technology she needed to remain at the top of her field. Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectrometers require money and space. Money was available. Real estate was scarce. "I couldn't ask them to put a whole new building up," she quips. Loath to leave her valued colleagues in the region, McDermott says she was even asking friends how hard it would be to swap fields.

Richard A. Rifkind, then dean of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, says McDermott was not the only New York City scientist contemplating change: "We were about to lose several major figures in the NMR...

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