Chemist George Rathmann is a scientist entrepreneur with not one, but two successful startups to his credit. Ten years ago, in early 1981, Rathmann and his colleagues were successful in raising $19 million to launch Amgen Inc. of Thousand Oaks, Calif., which in 1989--the year in which its flagship product, erythropoietin (a red blood cell stimulator), was approved by the Food and Drug Administration--recorded sales of $192 million.

Last July, Rathmann resigned as chairman of Amgen (he remains on the company's board of directors) to launch another new biotech company, Seattle-based ICOS Corp., which, like Amgen, focuses on recombinant DNA technology and was launched with venture capital--$30 million.

In the following excerpts from a recent interview, Rathmann, a former vice president of R&D at Abbott Laboratories of North Chicago, Ill., discusses the similarities and differences between the biotech industry of today and that of 10 years ago. He also offers...

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