Baltezor to lead effort to take KU drug discoveries to market

Biotechnology Innovation and Optimization Center key part of cancer center quest

Michael Baltezor, a veteran manager of pharmaceutical and medical products companies in Kansas City, has been named director of a KU research center that focuses on bringing drug discoveries into the marketplace.

Michael Baltezor

Baltezor joins KU’s Biotechnology Innovation and Optimization Center, known as BIOC, a research and commercialization group that operates at the Lawrence and medical center campuses. BIOC is seen as an important component of KU’s initiative to obtain National Cancer Institute designation for the bi-campus KU Cancer Center.

“Having someone with Mike’s vast industry experience in this role will be a real plus for BIOC,” said Steve Warren, vice provost for research and graduate studies. “He has a tremendous track record as a business executive who also understands the science extremely well.”

Baltezor has worked for drug development-related companies since 1976, including 10 years with the Dorsey Laboratories Division of Sandoz, seven years with Quintiles Inc. and 12 years with Marion Laboratories and its successor companies. Most recently, he was vice president of research and development in the Infection Prevention Division of CareFusion Inc., following two years as chief science officer for Medi-Flex Inc.

In his new role, Baltezor reports to Warren and serves as associate director of KU’s Institute for Advancing Medical Innovation, established in 2009 with an $8.1 million grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and a commitment of matching funds from KU Endowment.

“BIOC plays an integral role with IAMI,” Scott Weir, its director. “As we help faculty researchers and our external collaborators transform basic research into new drug therapies, BIOC helps us not only select the most promising drugs, but to formulate them into drug products which will be administered to patients participating in clinical trials. Mike brings tremendous industry experience, and with his leadership, will enable us to establish and advance strategic collaborations with industry, government, academia and disease philanthropy organizations, all in the effort of bringing new therapies to patients.”

Baltezor received a doctorate in pharmaceutics and pharmaceutical chemistry in 1977 and a master’s in 1975, both from KU. His advisers were Takeru Higuchi and Arnold Repta, known as pioneers in the formulation of drug compounds for development as products in the private sector. Baltezor received a bachelor’s in chemistry from Missouri Western State University in 1972, where he was the recipient of a Distinguished Alumni Award and an honorary doctorate.

“BIOC has established a reputation for excellence in solving drug delivery challenges,” Baltezor said. “My vision is for the group to become a more integrated partner with IAMI and other scientific, engineering and medical groups at Lawrence and the medical center. Our primary goal is to utilize the strength of an integrated scientific drug development approach to support the KU Cancer Center, the drug discovery, delivery and development research program and external collaborations with start-ups and established companies.”

BIOC was established in 2008 with external support from the Kansas Technology Enterprise Corporation. Its research programs are funded primarily by grants and contracts from the National Institutes of Health, IAMI, the KU Cancer Center, industrial partners and nonprofit health-related organizations.

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