“That guy is supposed to be smart? He’s an inventor and a scientist?” That’s what George Yancopoulos, MD, PhD, founding scientist and head of R&D at Regeneron Laboratories, claims people say about him after first meeting him.
Perhaps that’s because, despite having helped invent lifesaving drugs and being dubbed “Pharma’s First Billionaire R&D Chief” by Forbes, Yancopoulos is, in many ways, a regular guy.
“He has always just been our weird, silly, always-there-for-us dad,” says his daughter Nia, 23, even when “he was off curing the world’s biggest diseases.” He’s also a prankster who starts soup-cracker fights, obsesses over teen-TV shows like Gossip Girl with his kids and takes an embarrassing number of selfies.
An immigrant child of the Greek-Macedonian diaspora that fled war-torn worlds for multiple generations, Yancopoulos grew up in Queens. “Who you are is where you come from,” he says. “I am a product of my environment who became the obsessive-compulsive science guy.”