The HBC was established in 1989 as a —Center of Centers— engaged in multidisciplinary biomedical research at the University of Kansas (KU). It was formed by merging the functions of the Center for Biomedical Research and the Center for Bioanalytical Research. The Center for Biomedical Research was established by the Office of Research, Graduate Studies, and Public Service in 1978 as a scientific center with a mission to enhance biomedical research at KU, especially, to promote multidisciplinary research in the chemical, biological, and pharmaceutical sciences. The initial funding of the Center for Biomedical Research came mostly from a large grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The Center for Bionalytical Research was established in 1983 as a center with a mission to develop new chemical analytical technologies for biomedical and pharmaceutical purposes and to promote the timely transfer of such technologies to the private sector in order to enhance economic development within the State of Kansas. The initial funding for this center was provided by the Kansas Technology Enterprise Corporation (KTEC), a semi-autonomous State corporation, and by the start-up pharmaceutical company, Oread. The merging of the two centers, the Biomedical and Bioanalytical Research Centers, to form the HBC in 1989, allowed for economies resulting from the formation of a single administrative unit to manage these two centers, and for better utilization of shared research space in the then existing buildings on west campus, the Smissman Laboratories, the Pharmaceutical Chemistry Laboratories, and the McCollum Laboratories.
From the period between 1989 and 1995, the HBC grew as a result of increased funding by KTEC as well as by federal agencies and private industry. During that period, two new KTEC-supported centers were established within the HBC, the Center for Drug Delivery Research and the Center for Neurobiology and Immunology Research. These centers were developed in order to capture more fully the scientific advances being made by HBC Investigators, advances that might fuel technology transfer and commercialization. During the period that HBC was receiving support from KTEC, scientific advances in the fields represented in the HBC Centers led to the launching of seven biotechnology or early stage pharmaceutical companies in Kansas. However, the level of support by KTEC did not change substantially after 1995, while the funding received by HBC Investigators from Federal agencies, primarily from the NIH, continued to increase. In other words, the basic and applied scientific research component of the HBC was growing at a faster rate than the technology transfer and commercialization component.
Following the formation of KUCR, the HBC became one of the Designated Centers for Research at KU. In 2007, KUCR/RGS recommended the separation of the KTEC-funded component from the rest of the HBC research activities and the establishment of a facility focused totally on technology development and technology transfer. The Biotechnology Innovation and Optimization (BIO) facility was created in 2007 to receive the funding from KTEC and to perform technology maturation and commercialization. From 2007 onward, the sole focus of the HBC since FY2008 has been the enhancement and success of programmatic research efforts in biomedical research of the scientists affiliated with the HBC, the HBC Investigators.