WHAT HE'S DOING NOW: ISB focuses on "big science" projects like mapping the genes of families prone to prostate cancer. To recruit families, for example, Hood appeared on Larry King Live with prostate cancer survivor Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf. One of the core beliefs at ISB is that medicine will become more and more personalized, with people sequencing their own genes and pharmaceutical companies developing drugs for groups with certain genetic characteristics. "It's utterly inevitable," Hood says. "You can argue whether it will happen five years or ten years from now, but it's already starting."
And when it does, ISB will be reaping the rewards, says Hood, who lined up support from venture capitalists to create a project called The Accelerator. In exchange for access to cash and ISB resources, ISB gets an equity stake which, in time, will build an endowment.
It's a different business model than the usual academic one, but because Hood learned as much about science from the telephone company and a geology camp as he did in school, he knows that progress is not the province of academia alone. "My fundamental philosophy is that you owe it to society to transfer to them any knowledge you have that might be useful," he says.