Joseph Balthasar named first David and Jane Chu Endowed Chair in Drug Discovery and Development

A portrait of Joseph Balthasar in a research lab.

A portrait of Joseph Balthasar, David and Jane Chu Endowed Chair in Drug Discovery and Development. Photographer: Douglas Levere

By Jennifer Boscia-Smith

Release Date: October 19, 2020

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“An endowed chair has a generational effect. Fifty years from now, there will still be a Chu chair and an endowed scientist in that chair. ”
James M. O’Donnell, dean and professor of the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Joseph P. Balthasar, PhD, professor of pharmaceutical sciences and director of the Center for Protein Therapeutics, has been named the first David and Jane Chu Endowed Chair in Drug Discovery and Development in the University at Buffalo School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

Balthasar is an internationally renowned researcher in protein therapeutics through the development of innovative mechanistic and physiological models to describe and predict protein disposition.

He is the primary investigator on two $1.5 million National Institute of Health grants studying cancer causing agents. In his role as Center for Protein Therapeutics director, he administers over $5.2 million in funding from various pharmaceutical industry partners to provide internal funding to School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences research faculty and Center for Protein Therapeutics fellows.

Balthasar’s work also incorporates mathematic modeling to discover better ways to treat diseases. “Our approach is really to be opportunistic,” said Balthasar, who is also executive director of university research initiatives in the UB Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development. “We look for problems that our strategies can solve.” His novel investigations into life-saving cancer treatments have the potential to improve millions of lives around the globe.

The Chu chair was established with a gift from loyal alumni David C.K. Chu, PhD, and Jane Chu, who are proud to support a researcher who shares their passion for education and research. “Jane and I had an excellent graduate education, which was the basis for our accomplishments in later life,” said David Chu.

Their gift to UB was also eligible for the State University of New York (SUNY) Scholars of Excellence program, which helps support the growth of prestigious endowed faculty positions state-wide. The School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences is the first school at UB to benefit from this innovative program.   

“Gifts like this play a critical role in making UB the best pharmacy school in New York, placing us among a relatively small group of elite, research-intensive schools in the United States,” said James M. O’Donnell, PhD, dean and professor of the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

O’Donnell, who appreciates the long-term impact of the Chus’ gift, adds, “An endowed chair has a generational effect. Fifty years from now, there will still be a Chu chair and an endowed scientist in that chair.” 

While Balthasar’s research reputation is the reason for his world-wide acclaim, teaching is also his passion. “I feel it’s the greatest job one could have, helping develop new young scientists,” said Balthasar, who is quick to recognize the importance of his numerous mentors, including current and former School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences distinguished faculty members Ho-Leung Fung, PhD, William Jusko, PhD, and Gerhard Levy, PharmD.

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