Vladimir Drozdoff had just started working at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory when he was asked to investigate why a patent had been denied for what the lab considered a genetics breakthrough.

Cold Spring, the former home of DNA researcher James Watson, is well known for genetics research. But the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 2007 denied one of its top scientists, Gregory Hannon, a patent for technology that would allow researchers to selectively turn off genes.

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