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Bio-preparedness in New South Wales , Australia - Diagnostics, Therapeutics and Vaccines

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Event description

Join our internationally recognised key opinion leaders for breakfast and a panel discussion about cutting-edge technologies in diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines to support biopreparedness. 

New South Wales (NSW) is Australia's premier state, with the nation's largest economy and population, and is recognised as a global centre of excellence in advanced therapeutic research and development. Our state has an advanced and interconnected ecosystem developing the next generation of therapies, including

  • gene and gene-modified cell therapies;
  • precision and genomic medicine;
  • RNA therapeutics and diagnostics; and
  • vaccines.

Hosted by the NSW Government, this breakfast will allow attendees to directly engage with a panel of Australia's leading experts in their respective fields with a focus on bio-preparedness, who will share opportunities for investment and collaboration to shore up bio-defences, in a government-backed ecosystem spanning research, translation, commercialisation, and, ultimately, delivery of care. 

Key Opinion Leaders

Alison Todd, Chief Scientific Officer, PhD, FTSE

Adj/Professor Alison Todd is the co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer of SpeeDx, a NSW based, global molecular diagnostics company.  She is an elected Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering; and in 2022 was the recipient of the Prime Minister’s Prize for Innovation.  

Alison is a serial inventor with a portfolio of 22 patent families that comprises over 160 granted patents which protect SpeeDx’s extensive IP portfolio. She is a pioneer in the field of personalised medicine, having pursued a career which has focused on developing and commercialising diagnostic tests for tailoring and monitoring therapy for patients with cancer or infectious diseases.

Prior to founding SpeeDx, Alison was a Senior Research Director at Johnson and Johnson Research Pty Limited, Sydney. She spent nearly 20 years within the pharmaceutical industry and was internationally recognised with the Johnson & Johnson Philip B. Hofmann Research Scientist Award for outstanding achievement in R&D.

Alison is a member of the AusBiotech NSW Leadership Committee and holds several positions within groups that work to build bridges between industry & academia, aligning research & education strategies of universities with the needs of industry. She is a passionate mentor of the next generation of STEM researchers and entrepreneurs and is an Adjunct Professor at the University of New South Wales.

Ruby Lin, Genomic Chair, Westmead Research Hub, Deputy Director of Phage Australia, Westmead Institute for Medical Research

Adj Professor Ruby Lin is the Deputy Director for Science and biotechnology at Phage Australia – a program that builds on Phage Australia’s international leadership in phage therapy, microbiology, clinical and laboratory medicine, genomics, informatics and biotechnology.

Dr Lin is an expert in genomics and biotechnology and has secure over $10 million AUD in competitive research funding. She was an NHMRC Peter Doherty Postdoctoral fellow (2005-8) and a UNSW Vice-Chancellor Global fellow (2009-14).

She works closely with key stakeholders in industry and many government organisations including NSW Health. She was instrumental in securing seed funding for NSW Pathogen Biobank, as well as Phage Biobank for the Westmead Research Hub.

In 2017-9, Dr Lin led the Westmead Bacteriophage Therapy Team, as project manager and scientific lead to successfully demonstrate safety and feasibility of first-in-human-GMP-phage clinical trial. Furthermore, her team produced > 8 high profile papers and reviews on phage therapy in the last 5 years including being featured on Channel 7 news, ABC radio, podcast in Med J Australia, featured blog in Phage Directory and Nature Microbiology, ABC 7.30 report and several media releases. Dr Lin was instrumental in introducing therapeutic monitoring of immune gene expression responses in patients receiving phage therapy. This led to a US and an Europe filing of a patent (co-inventor Prof Jon Iredell). She has led and published high impact work (>90 peered review papers, white papers and news articles, H-index of 36), many are highly cited and featured in the media.

During the last 2 years, she oversees phage purification program in partnership with UNSW to explore sovereign manufacturing of therapeutic phages in Australia. This has led to implementation of locally produced phage to treat patients under a nationally approved standardised treatment and monitoring protocol to assess safety and tolerability of bacteriophage therapy for adults and paediatric patients – a world first.

As deputy director of Phage Australia, Dr Lin focuses on the biobanking arm that addresses phage matching, phage characterisation, phage exchange program, phage and pathogen biobanking, genomic characterisation and data informatics, as well as business development and commercialisation. She manages international stakeholders of phage collections to establish a Phage Exchange Program, as well as establishing different streams of income for Phage Australia.

Dr Lin believes her research impact includes mentoring and serving the research community. She was past president, immediate past VP and current managing executive of Australasian Genomic Technologies Association – a premier genomic association in Australasia, and the Genomic Chair of the Scientific Advisory Committee of Westmead Precinct Hub (2 teaching hospitals and 3 Medical Research Institutes). She is a GEDI (Gender Equality, Diversity and Inclusion) committee member of AAMRI (Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes), part of STEM Women (Australian Academy of Science) and advocates for girls and women in STEMM, and she does pro bono career coaching. She is on the Phage Futures Advisory Board, Convenor of AGTA2022 and part of organising committee for International Genetics Congress 2023 Melbourne and co-convenor for International Society for Viruses of Microorganisms 2024 Cairns, Australia.

Dr Deborah Burnett, Group Leader- Protective Immunity Group, Garvan Institute of Medical Research, Senior Lecturer, University of New South Wales.

Coming from a background in veterinary medicine, exploring immune responses in health and disease, Dr Burnett transitioned to human health research, completing her honours at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research and her PhD at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research.

Dr Burnett’s research has contributed vital insights to understanding autoimmune pathophysiology. She was able to provide the experimental basis to support the listing soluble CLTA4 therapy as an effective precision medicine to treat LRBA-deficient children. This work was recognised as the “Publication of the Year” in the ICB journal.

Her work has redefined the accepted role of B cells in vaccine responses against threats which mimic our own proteins, resulting in first author publications in the journals Science and PNAS which have since received 2 F1000 recommendations.  These discoveries led Dr Burnett to be awarded the 2019 UNSW Medicine Award for “Outstanding Contribution to Research”.

Deborah’s work on COVID19 studied the transformative concept of how to target conserved viral elements to generate broad immune protection, resulting in publications in prestigious journals including Cell, Immunity, Nature Communications, Nature Microbiology, Cell Reports Medicine, mAbs and ICB. Her corresponding author publication in this space was awarded the 2021 “Publication of the Quarter” by St Vincent’s Clinical School and has since resulted in two active patents on antibody targeting and vaccine design.

Deborah has received more than $9m in competitive grant funding, with more than $1.5m of this as the lead Chief-Investigator. This includes an NSW OHMR RNA Future Leaders Grant (2023), an NHMRC Investigator Grant (2020-25) and a Ramachiotti Health Investment Grant (2022). Her significance to her field was acknowledged through her receipt of the Highly Commended for the Griffith University Discovery Award and the Annual Health and Medical Research Awards in 2022.

Deborah serves as an elected council member on the Australian and New Zealand Society of Immunology (ASI). She also serves as a representative on the Garvan Animal Ethics Committee, seeking to enhance institute wide practices towards the use of animals in medical research.

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