At the University of Wisconsin's McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research in Madison, oncology professor Waclaw Szybalski and his team are helping to define the leading edge of genetic engineering. The methods they have developed could have a tremendous impact on the much-discussed Human Genome Project, and it is therefore not surprising that Szybalski and his team of three senior researchers and three graduate students spend long hours in the lab. Indeed, even when they are not working, the researchers can be found in one another's company--at restaurants, on skiing trips, or at other social activities.

The success of the team at the 50-year-old McArdle Laboratory may be partly due to this friendly relationship among its members. But it is the atmosphere within the laboratory that seems to spur the researchers on. The team operates without formal structure but with tremendous individual familiarity. Says senior researcher Noaman Hasan, "We are independent...

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