Among the small bunch of billionaires that the local biotech industry has created, Tim Springer may be the only one who regularly rides his bike to work in the Longwood Medical Area, where his ID tag identifies him simply as a “staff scientist.”
Springer, a 74-year-old professor at Harvard Medical School and a research lab chief at Boston Children’s Hospital, is a heads-down scientist and entrepreneur with some notable quirks. He once commissioned a modern dance piece to explain the behavior of a kind of protein he studies called an integrin. He has shipped many tons of nature-sculpted “scholar rocks,” or gongshi, from China to his home in Newton, where they are displayed in his back yard. He says that during his freshman year at Yale in the mid-1960s, he rebelled against the requirement to wear a tie by putting one on over a t-shirt.