The Hauglands cultivated their booming enterprise by anticipating the demand for new fluorescent probes
It was 1975, and husband-and-wife chemists Dick and Rosaria Haugland were short on cash. Rosaria had taken time out from academic research in biochemistry to raise the couple's two children, and Dick regretted having no time for research in his first teaching job at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minn.

As a way to make extra money and as an excuse to spend more time in the laboratory Dick Haugland began inventing new fluorescent dyes. He sold a few to his colleagues, who used the stains to label the proteins they were studying.

Fifteen years later, that sideline is now a flourishing business. The Hauglands' company, Molecular C Probes Inc. in Eugene, Oreg., today sells more than 1,000 kinds of dyes to researchers and companies around the country: Last year it chalked up $4.5 million in...

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