Dr. Endre A. Balazs Honoured with Herman Mark Technology Medal 2003.

Date: Tuesday, December 9, 2003
Place: Dibner/CATT Building, Room 102, Polytechnic University, Brooklyn, NY.

The Polymer Research Institute (PRI) of Polytechnic University has announced that Dr. Endre A. Balazs will be awarded the 2003 Herman F. Mark Technology Medal. Balazs is being honored for pioneering the medical use of hyaluronan (formerly called hyaluronic acid), a special protein occurring naturally throughout the human body that has been described as “nature`s moisturizer.” Hyaluronan has been used in eye surgery as a shock absorber to protect the retina, and has been proven effective in lubricating arthritic joints. Balazs will receive the award at a special medal ceremony and conference on December 9.

Discovered in 1934, hyaluronan was first used commercially in 1942 when Balazs applied for a patent to use it as a substitute for egg white in bakery products. He went on to become the leading expert on hyaluronan and made the majority of discoveries during the next 50 years. In 1981, he founded, with his wife, Dr. Janet Denlinger, a biomedical company called Biomatrix Inc. to develop hyaluronan for therapeutic applications. Using a chemical technique known as `cross-linking,` Biomatrix researchers derived a purified and concentrated version of hyaluronan to treat osteoarthritis and marketed it under the name Synvisc. The company grew to 400 employees and 11 countries before being sold, in 2000, to Genzyme Corp.

Balazs became interested in cellular biochemistry while a medical student in Hungary in the 1930s. Later he organized the research laboratories of the Retina Foundation, affiliated with the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and the Department of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School. In 1970, he helped separate the fundamental biomedical research program from the Retina Foundation and established it as the Boston Biomedical Research Institute, with him as its first director. Two years earlier, he founded Biotrics Inc. to develop methods to produce and apply ultrapure hyaluronan for medical purposes. In 1972, his product was introduced for viscosurgery and treatment of pain in osteoarthritis. In 1975, he became a chaired professor and director of eye research at Columbia University`s College of Physicians and Surgeons, where he is currently a research professor emeritus. He and his wife are founders of the non-profit Matrix Biology Institute, which strives to increase the understanding of hyaluronan structure, biological function and applications.


  • Opening Remarks
    Dr. Kalle M. Levon, director, Polymer Research Institute, Polytechnic University

  • Welcoming Remarks
    Dr. David C. Chang, president, Polytechnic University

  • "Recent Advances Toward the Understanding of Articular Cartilage Load Support Mechanisms and Lubrication"
    Dr. Van C. Mow, the Stanley Dicker Professor and chair, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Columbia University

  • "Leukocytes Bind to Hyaluronan Matrices Synthesized by Endoplasmic Reticulum-Stressed Cells: A Model for Inflammatory Responses"
    Dr. Vincent Hascall, Cleveland Clinic Foundation

  • "Dependence of Hyaluronan Shape and Interactions on Local Environment"
    Dr. Mary Cowman, associate professor of biochemistry, Polytechnic University

  • Medal Presentation to Dr. Endre A. Balazs











Design made by Vishwan Aranha.