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 range from extracting and purifying the molecule itself, to a medical product that has made intraocular surgeries almost routine and benefited countless eye surgery patients, to a "cross-linking" technique that ties together hyaluronan strands.
Dr. Balazs is currently the Malcolm P. Aldrich Research Professor Emeritus in the Department of Opthalmology 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. along with alumna, Dr. Janet Denlinger. As the company's CEO and CSO, 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.
Born in Budapest, Hungary, he earned his medical doctorate from the University of Budapest in 1943 before launching his research career in Sweden. In the early 1950s, he emigrated 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.Several years ago when Dr. Balazs sold Biometrix, 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 data base on hyaluronan research and by incorporating the International Society of Hyaluronan Sciences, for which he has developed altruistic bylaws and organized international meetings.
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.