Julius Axelrod, who won the Nobel Prize for his work in neuroscience, spent much of his career as a lab tech. Born in 1912 on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, he got most of his education at the tuition-free City College of New York, which he described as a “proletarian Harvard.” He applied to several medical schools and was rejected, later saying, “It was hard in those days for Jews to get into medical school. I wasn’t that good a student, but if my name was Bigelow I probably would have gotten in.” Working as a tech at the Laboratory of Industrial Hygiene, he and Bernard Brodie discovered acetaminophen (Tylenol), which they didn’t patent. He took night courses at NYU, getting a master’s degree in 1942 at the age of 30. Still without a doctorate, he went on to NIH, where he took a year off for coursework and convinced George Washington University to allow him to use his NIH work as a doctoral thesis, finally receiving his Ph.D. in his early 40s. He went on to discover the reuptake of monoamines; a variety of metabolic pathways including hydroxylation, demethylation, and conjugation; and the P-450 enzyme system. He maintained a presence in his lab until 2004, when he died of a heart attack at 92. Turns out being a late starter is not always so bad.