But the company's future is even more exciting, thanks in large part to Myrtle Potter, who heads up all Genentech's commercial operations - sales, marketing, managed care, the works. Potter was hired in 2000 to help market Rituxan, Xolair (for asthma), and a slew of other significant new drugs in the company's well-stocked pipeline. She brings big-company experience to the smaller, leaner, meaner Genentech, coming from a stint at Bristol-Myers Squibb where she oversaw the promotion of big sellers like Pravachol (for high cholesterol) and Glucophage (for diabetes). Before that, Potter spent more than a decade at Merck, where she drew praise for reviving Prilosec and helped craft the Astra/Merck joint venture.

As one of the few African-Americans near the top in pharmaceuticals, Potter was named a "global influential" by Time and made Fortune's list of the most powerful black executives. Look for her name on many more power lists as Genentech brings out Tarceva, which fights lung cancer, and Xolair, its long-awaited asthma medicine. Potter-watchers see her joining the CEO ranks before the decade's out.

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KRIS PISTER

Who
Founder and CEO of Dust, Inc. and professor at University of California-Berkeley

Why Watch? His networks of tiny, self-organizing sensors could change the game in retail, energy, warfare, and more.

Imagine: As conditions in a Western state grow ripe for disastrous wildfires, thousands of pinpoint-size smart sensors are dropped from airplanes into likely fire zones. The motes network with one another and gather and relay vital data about temperature and airflow, thanks to the group mind they form.