(Business 2.0 Magazine) -- The power went out at Hammersmith Hospital just a few minutes after I started chatting with Sunil Shaunak, a professor who specializes in drug discovery for infectious diseases. Since it was a bright, cool morning in London, the absence of lights and air-conditioning didn't strike me as problematic. Shaunak's graduate students looked alarmed, however, and it suddenly occurred to me why: The team had live cells growing in the refrigerators nearby. Yet Shaunak maintained the calm of a man accustomed to toiling in suboptimal conditions. "Remember," Shaunak said with a smile, "I'm an academic." altruist.03.jpg Experimental drugmaking: Shaunak is reversing the industry's typical business model. discover_drug.03.gif More from Business 2.0 A biotech pioneer takes on Big Pharma A Microsoft legend's next great adventure Wii: The greenest game console Fastest Growing Tech Companies Current Issue Subscribe to Business 2.0 In truth, it's impossible to forget that Shaunak isn't your ordinary entrepreneur. Far from singing the praises of high-tech capitalism, he rails against the disparities in the health care it delivers to the First and Third Worlds. He cheerfully admits to being naive about all things commercial. "I didn't know what an IPO was until five years ago," he says. "And I still can't read a spreadsheet." Nevertheless, Shaunak is the co-founder of one of the most exciting startups I've ever encountered - a biotech outfit that not only holds the promise of saving millions of lives but could undermine the business model that sustains Big Pharma to the detriment of medical innovation.