2005 Honorary Degree
Dr. Endre A. Balazs
Dr. Endre A. Balazs has distinguished himself through pioneering research on hyaluronan, a viscoelastic substance found in the vitreous of the eye.
As the world's leading expert for over 50 years on this important macromolecule, his work has encompassed numerous pioneering discoveries. These contributions include extracting and purifying the molecule itself, a medical product that has made intraocular surgeries almost routine and benefited countless eye surgery patients, and a "cross-linking" technique that ties together hyaluronan strands.
Dr. Balazs is currently the Malcolm P. Aldrich Research Professor Emeritus in the Department of Opthamology at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, where he continues to do research. In 1968, Dr. Balazs founded Biotrics Inc. to develop methods to produce and apply hyaluronan for medical purposes. In 1981, he co-founded Biomatrix Inc. with Purdue alumna Dr. Janet Denlinger. As the company's chief executive officer and chief science officer, he established a strong research program that focused on modifying hyaluronan, work that led to important therapeutic applications, including a viscoelastic supplement for arthritic joints.
Several years ago when Dr. Balazs sold Biomatrix, he co-founded Matrix Charitable Institute Inc., a philanthropic foundation with the purpose of promoting hyaluronan research. He has advanced the foundation's mission by establishing a comprehensive history and public database on hyaluronan research and by incorporating the International Society of Hyaluronan Sciences, for which he has developed altruistic bylaws and organized international meetings.
Born in Budapest, Hungary, he earned his medical degree from the University of Budapest in 1943 before launching his research career in Sweden. In the early 1950s, he immigrated to the United States where he accepted an appointment at the Retina Foundation in Boston and later became its president. He also set up and ran the Connective Tissue Research Laboratories of the Boston Biomedical Research Institute in the mid-1950s through 1968.
In 1999, Biomatrix was recognized by Fortune as one of America's 100 Fastest Growing Companies. Dr. Balazs also received an honorary doctorate from the Uppsala University in Sweden in 1967.