It was 1978, and a group of prominent biologists had just gotten together to form a new company called Biogen — founded on the back of Nobel Prize-winning discoveries that promised a world in which scientists could clone just about any molecule they could find in nature.

A year later, the company had figured out how to clone interferon, a signaling protein that could treat a form of leukemia. Its scientists went on to develop a hepatitis B vaccine. And, over the intervening years, the Cambridge, Mass.-based Biogen could proudly and consistently claim to be a pillar of American biotech.

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