Cuts concern UA biotech guru Cusanovich

October 3, 2008

By hammersmith

[Source: Dan Sullivan, Arizona Daily Star] – The summer between his freshman and sophomore years in college, Mike Cusanovich worked at a chemical company “making things that went boom and then making them go boom.”

One day that summer, he was sitting in a bunker that suddenly exploded, sending him to the hospital for six weeks with burns on 60 percent of his body, a ruptured kidney and seared lungs.

After the catastrophic explosion, he decided to never work on anything that “went boom.”

He went on to graduate school in biochemistry, which took him on a career path that has lasted more than 40 years.

Cusanovich, director of Arizona Research Laboratories and regents professor of biochemistry and molecular biophysics, has been a leader in the state’s bio industry. In recognition of his work, he has been presented with the Arizona BioIndustry Association Jon McGarity Leadership Award.

Here are excerpts from a conversation with Cusanovich:

Q: What is the significance of the award for you?

A: I’m no spring chicken, and I’ve reached a point in my career where I can make an investment for the long-term good of the state.