First REDI Fellowships Awarded to Boost Medical Research Commercialisation Capabilities

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12 May 2021

MTPConnect is pleased to announce that researchers in South Australia and Queensland have been selected as the first two fellows from the REDI (Researcher Exchange and Development within Industry) Fellowship Program.

The program provides financial support to Australian, international and/or multinational medical technology or pharmaceutical (MTP) companies to bring the best talent in-house for up to twelve-months to work on priority medical research projects.

Our congratulations to:

Dr Christina Kulis is a research officer at University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience focused on the discovery, design and development of new drugs. Dr Kulis will be moving to Brandon Capital Partners in Brisbane to gain experience on ‘venture capital investment analysis and management of a portfolio of opportunities’. Brandon Capital is one of Australia’s leading life science venture capital investors and manager of the Medical Research Commercialisation Fund (MRCF).

Dr Alexander Staudacher is a postdoctoral research scientist working in a translational oncology laboratory for the Central Adelaide Local Health Network (CALHN). Dr Staudacher will be working closely with Melbourne-headquartered Telix Pharmaceuticals to create a development roadmap for the commercialisation of humanised APOMAB™ for clinical combination therapy - a promising antibody technology for treatment of cancer. This roadmap will be essential to plan the manufacturing activities, nonclinical and clinical studies required to take this novel technology beyond the research phase and into clinical use with the aim to improve cancer patients’ lives. ASX-listed Telix Pharmaceuticals is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the development of diagnostic and therapeutic products using Molecularly Targeted Radiation (MTR). 

MTPConnect Managing Director & CEO, Dr Dan Grant, says these are the first of up to 40 industry-led Fellowships to be announced as part of the REDI program.  

“Congratulations to Dr Kulis and Dr Staudacher on their Fellowships and to Brandon Capital Partners and Telix Pharmaceuticals for making the connections,” said Dr Dan Grant.

“Creating meaningful links that allow researchers to move seamlessly between research and industry is critical for the growth and success of the MTP sector.

“Importantly, our REDI Fellowship Program requires that the researcher or clinician return to their home institution for a period at least equal to the term of their placement in industry.

“This will help address the issue of ‘brain drain’ of researcher talent into companies and ensure we embed high-level, industry-ready experience in the research sector.

“As the program is ongoing, I urge industry to consider taking up this valuable opportunity to boost our commercialisation capabilities,” Dr Grant said.

Fellowship awardee, Dr Kulis, says she’s looking forward to applying her knowledge to live, commercial projects that contribute to Australia’s growing biotechnology industry and improve health outcomes globally.

“I am pleased to be joining the Brandon Capital team in Brisbane to support the commercialisation of technologies from Queensland and Australian medical research institutes,” Dr Kulis said.

Dr Goslik Schepers, Brandon Capital Senior Investment Manager in Brisbane, explained that

the success of industry relies on strong collaboration between industry, researchers and the public sector.

“We applaud this program in supporting the next generation of professionals in Australia’s burgeoning biomedical commercialisation sector.

“Dr Kulis showed strong business acumen and an aptitude for biotechnology commercialisation during her internship with Brandon Capital in 2019. Her experience in drug discovery and development will enable her to immediately make a contribution as we review opportunities associated with Australian and New Zealand research institutes,” Dr Schepers said.

Dr Staudacher says being awarded the fellowship means he’ll be able to move to Melbourne to work with the team at Telix.

“The REDI Fellowship will provide me with a valuable opportunity to work with Telix Pharmaceuticals, a leader in the radiopharmaceutical industry, to progress my cancer research from the bench to bedside,” Dr Staudacher said.

Dr Michael Wheatcroft, Telix Chief Scientist, explained that Telix is a strong supporter of academic-industry collaboration.

“The REDI Fellowship will provide us with the opportunity to take our work with AusHealth and APOMAB to the next level. We would like to thank the MTPConnect and the MRFF for funding and facilitating this vital program,” Dr Wheatcroft said.

The REDI Fellowship Program can provide up to $250,000 per fellow, per annum. Full and part-time fellowships over a six-month to two-year period will be supported and subject to COVID-19 restrictions, domestic and international fellowships will be considered.  

Applications remain open on a continuous basis until either the funds are fully committed or until October 2022, whichever is first. Applications are reviewed three times annually, with the next submission deadlines of 1 July 2021 and 1 November 2021. Apply now.

MTPConnect deploys the $32 million REDI program supported by the Medical Research Future Fund. The four-year initiative is delivering system-wide improvements to skills development and training programs for the medical technology, biotechnology and pharmaceutical sector workforce.