KRYSTYNA BELENDIUK (SOKOLOWSKI)

KRYSTYNA BELENDIUK (SOKOLOWSKI)
Belendiuk

Looking through the yearbook has brought back many vivid memories of the times we shared. In retrospect, the myriad of experiences we had at Kelvin was really quite remarkable. So, maybe it isnít all that surprising to see how divergent the paths have been that we chose to follow.

After graduating from Kelvin I decided to go to McGill. I suppose I could justify that decision by saying something like, ìthe science program was top notchî. But the reality was that I chose McGill because Montreal sounded like an exciting place to live. And, it was ñ the people, the sights, the culture ñ they were all wonderfully different and new. Along the way I did get an honors degree in biochemistry. I also took the opportunity to sing and act. (I made sure no one knew that I played the violin ñ I didnít want to risk being put into the orchestra pit again!)

I also met my future husband, George, at McGill. We married in 1972, just before graduation. With all of our joint earthly belongings fitting into the trunk of a rental car, we drove to Chicago, and settled into marriage and graduate school. I had been accepted into psychology, George into the M.D./Ph.D. program. The next few years were an incredibly exciting time for me. The fields of pharmacology, neurochemistry and psychiatry were all converging and I was studying with the man who had pretty much set it all in motion.

After receiving my Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, I transitioned to become a member of its faculty, in the department of psychiatry. The next five years, doing research into the neurochemistry of psychiatric and neurological disorders ñ schizophrenia, ALS, Huntingtonís Disease ñ was an experience that I would never trade. However, by about 1980, I saw ìthe error of my waysî and enrolled into the Business School. I think I probably had the dubious distinction of being the only full time faculty member and part-time business student at the time.

After getting my MBA, I decided to leave academia and enter the private sector. Over the next dozen or so years I worked, in various capacities, for large pharmaceutical companies such as Abbott, Sandoz and Ciba-Geigy (the latter two merging to become Novartis). During those years I designed sales/marketing campaigns for new drugs, prepared strategic evaluations of new business opportunities, and prepared plans for the development of new therapeutic drugs. The latter experiences would prove to be invaluable.

In 1990 George and I became co-founders of a venture-backed pharmaceutical company, Pharmavene. The Companyís focus was to develop improved versions of existing products (i.e., drugs that could be dosed less frequently, were more effective or had a better side effect profile), or to target existing drugs for new indications (e.g., addictive disorders, bipolar disorder, etc.). In 1997 we received FDA approval for and launched our first product, an anti-epileptic drug, Carbatrol. On the heels of that was Adderal XR, a drug for treating children with attention deficit disorder. In 1997 Pharmavene (by now employing about seventy people) was sold to Shire.

I would not be honest if I didnít say that I take tremendous pride in my work in the pharmaceutical/biotechnology industry, particularly in building Pharmavene. The products Iíve helped develop have made a significant impact on the quality of many peopleís lives. And, in the case of Pharmavene, my efforts led to the creation of a new, self-sustaining and vibrant business.

I also take tremendous pride in my two children ñ Katherine (ìKatî), twenty and Andrew (ìSpotî), seventeen. They are anything and everything a mother could hope for ñ bright, beautiful and insightful. Kat is on scholarship in an honors program in science at the University of Maryland; Andy is applying to programs in architecture.

In 2000 I set up my own consulting company. As a consultant Iíve worked with several startup companies, helping them develop their business strategies and write their business plans. Iíve also started to cultivate interactions with the Federal Government. My last assignment was to write a ìWhite Paperî for the ìOffice of National Drug Control Policy ñ Office of the Presidentî.

In my ìoff timeî, I have started writing a novel, ìFootprints in the Snowî. Yes, it is a ìlove storyî (set in Switzerland.)

George died in 1996; I havenít remarried. I live in a lovely home in Potomac (just outside of Washington, DC). I have been blessed with good health, good friends, and the where-with-all to travel and live a gentle existence. My life has been filled with happiness, as well as with sorrow ñ but, I have no regrets. When I graduated from Kelvin I could not have envisioned what an absolutely wild, often scary, mostly wonderful, but ultimately all-consuming roller-coaster ride it would be.

I look forward to sharing in your intervening life experiences and remembrances of our days together at Kelvin when we meet again in June!

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