Krishna (Balki) Balakrishnan is the acting director of NCATS’ Office of Strategic Alliances (OSA), where he oversees the Center’s partnership, strategic alliance and technology transfer functions and leads a team of licensing and patenting specialists who collectively work with the Center’s scientific staff to facilitate their collaborative efforts. Balakrishnan and his team assist in all aspects of developing these strategic alliances, including helping define the contours of the collaboration, delineating roles and responsibilities for the various parties and troubleshooting any challenges that may occur during the collaborations. His team is responsible for protecting NCATS’ intellectual property and for helping commercialize the Center’s discoveries through licensing and partnerships. Balakrishnan also is the program director for the NCATS Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer Research (STTR) grant and contract programs. In this role, he works closely with interested small businesses by providing advice and educational resources about the program. The OSA is unique in managing both the SBIR and STTR programs within one team and deriving valuable synergies by doing so.
Before joining NCATS in 2011, Balakrishnan served as executive director at the Foundation for Advanced Education in the Sciences, a nonprofit foundation affiliated with NIH, where he greatly expanded the academic offerings by establishing certificate programs in technology transfer and public health. His earlier positions at NIH include marketing group leader in the NIH Office of Technology Transfer and senior technology development manager at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Prior to his tenure at NIH, Balakrishnan was vice president of technology and business development and vice president of research and development at a division of Covance, formerly Berkeley Antibody Company.
Balakrishnan earned his doctorate in biophysical chemistry from Stanford University and his master’s in business administration from the University of California, Berkeley. He is the co-inventor on two U.S. patents (including US 6,750,328B1) and has published and presented extensively on scientific subjects and technology transfer matters.
Balakrishnan is interested in exploring unique ways to communicate and connect with all categories of outside collaborators who can move NCATS’ translational projects forward. He believes that players in the translational space share many common goals, and he focuses his interactions with NCATS’ partners on looking for these areas of common interest and then incorporates them into the collaboration agreements. Balakrishnan also serves as a mentor to young scientists, particularly from disadvantaged backgrounds, who are looking to broaden their career options. He helps them explore alternate careers in science because the shrinking of research dollars and the scarcity of traditional academic research positions has made such exploration critical to career success.