Karolinska Institutet creates a new professorship in innovation and entrepreneurship

Published 2015-05-13 08:00. Updated 2015-09-04 14:18Denna sida på svenska

Karolinska Institutet has received a donation of 4 million USD, approximately 35 million SEK, for the creation of a professorship in innovation and entrepreneurship. The new professorship is financed by the 95-year-old doctor, researcher, innovator and business leader Professor Endre A. Balazs and his wife Dr Janet L. Denlinger.

Dr. Janet L. Denlinger, professor Endre A. Balazs och Karolinska Institutets rektor Anders Hamsten signerar gåvoavtalet. Foto: Gustav Mårtensson

The “Endre A. Balazs Professorship in Innovation and Entrepreneurship” will now be advertised broadly.

“The future incumbent could be a scientist, or an innovator and business leader with a PhD in the life science field,” says Dean of Research Hans-Gustaf Ljunggren. “We’re open to evaluate all kinds of candidates with strong profiles in the field.”

The professor, who will be selected from an international field of competing applicants, will be expected to devote his or her time to research and education in the field of innovation and entrepreneurship.

“An innovation culture is strategically important for Karolinska Institutet and for Swedish life science,” says the university’s vice-chancellor Anders Hamsten. “It’s part of our mission to help turn medical discoveries into innovations and products of use to the healthcare sector. We’re therefore extremely grateful for Endre Balazs’s generosity, as his donation opens up new, very exciting possibilities in this field.”

Professor Endre A. Balazs. Photo: Gustav MårtenssonEndre A. Balazs was a visiting researcher at Karolinska Institutet between 1947 and 1950, when he laid the foundation of a successful career as a scientist and entrepreneur. His ability to translate his research into commercial products has made him a wealthy man. In the 1940s, he managed to synthesize hyaluronic acid in large amounts from rooster combs. The substance is the base of a number of medical products, including Healon, which is an invaluable aid in lens transplants in cataract patients. Healon was licensed to Pharmacia in the early 1970s and was the company’s biggest product during the 1980s and 1990s. An estimated 300 million patients around the world have undergone cataract operations in which Healon and similar hyaluronic acid-based substances are used. Balazs and Denlinger later started the company Biomatrix and launched a product based on hyaluronic acid, which has been used for millions of patients suffering from arthrosis and other diseases of the joints.