REDI News: Announcing New Industry Fellowships

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12 May 2022

MTPConnect is pleased to announce that 18 high-skilled Australian researchers, clinicians and professionals from the medical technology, biotechnology and pharmaceutical sector have secured sought-after industry placements under the REDI (Researcher Exchange and Development within Industry) Fellowship program.

The new fellows selected from the November 2021 round are from New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia and will be working for up to 20-months with small, medium and international companies based in Australia and Europe.

The REDI Fellowship program provides financial support to Australian and/or multinational medtech and pharma companies to bring the best Australian talent in-house to work on priority research projects.

MTPConnect CEO Stuart Dignam says connecting researchers, clinicians and sector professionals with industry is critical for the growth of Australia’s medical products sector.

“Our congratulations to these 18 talented fellows who are doing vital work in our sector for patients – and to the companies who are sponsoring them,” Mr Dignam said.

“There are now 32 fellows being supported through our REDI program, all gaining real-world industry experiences in research intensive companies.

"We are delighted that so many companies, from CSL and Cochlear to Leica Biosystems and SpeeDx, have seized the opportunities provided by our fellowships program which is driving greater collaboration between industry and research.

“Not only do fellows benefit from working within industry settings, but the program also ensures they return for a time to their home institution so they can share their industry experiences within the research sector and help drive commercialisation-focused culture change.  

Congratulations to the following REDI Fellows:

Dr Hilary Byrne is a Program Manager and Research Fellow from The University of Sydney who will undertake a 12-month project with 4DMedical, the technology innovator delivering breakthrough four-dimensional lung imaging capability, transforming diagnosis and surveillance. Dr Byrne will focus on resolving clear clinical needs spanning conditions such as COPD, lung cancer, cystic fibrosis and long-COVID, and by expediting regulatory approvals and commissioning of prototype scanning platforms enabling better treatments for patients.

Dr Cathy Sucher is a Senior Implant Audiologist & CI Research Lead from Ear Science Institute Australia. Dr Sucher will undertake a 9-month project with Cochlear Ltd, a global leader in implantable hearing solutions, to develop skills in the best practice of product development and commercialisation processes. Dr Sucher will develop curated counselling materials for a digital decision-aid tool for mainstream audiology clinics to improve the quality of cochlear implant discussion and follow ups.

Dr Demi Gao is a McKenzie Research Fellow from the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Melbourne and will undertake a 12-month project with Cochlear Limited, the global leader in implantable hearing solutions. Dr Gao will join Cochlear’s R&D team to develop skills in translating research to early-stage product development and will develop an AI approach for improving the performance of implantable microphones.

Dr Darcelle Thompson is a Manager Business Development and Commercialisation from La Trobe University who will undertake a 12-month project with CSL Limited, global biotech leader in biotherapies and influenza vaccines, to build commercial skills and knowledge. In CSL’s Research Innovation team, Dr Thompson will identify, evaluate and support investment decision making of early stage, external research opportunities and be part of CSL’s Global Licensing team supporting the licencing of new product opportunities and technologies.

Associate Professor Kate Gartlan is a Team Head at QIMR Berghofer who will undertake an 18-month project with CSL, a global biotech leader in biotherapies and influenza vaccines. A/Prof Gartlan will work with CSL to develop novel treatments to improve outcomes for blood cancer patients after stem cell transplantation. A/Prof Gartlan will learn the key aspects of strategy development and industry-based approaches to enhance translatability of academic research into solutions for patients, whilst identifying opportunities within highly competitive landscapes.

Dr Nicole Dmochowska is a Research Associate from the University of South Australia who will undertake a 12-month project with Ferronova, the Australian company developing novel early cancer detection technology, to develop skills in preclinical toxicity studies and Phase 1 “first-in-human” trials. Dr Dmochowska will complete streamlined preclinical validation of fibroblast activation protein-targeting nanoparticles for the delineation of brain tumours, in preparation for Phase 1 “first in human” clinical trials.

Associate Professor Jason Lee is a Head of Epigenetics and Disease Laboratory at QIMR Berghofer who will undertake a 12-month project with IP Group Australia, a leading investor in breakthrough technologies, to develop research commercialisation skills. A/Prof Lee will be embedded in a team of investment managers, assessing opportunities from across top research institutions in Australia, and collaborate in creating and supporting a portfolio of spin-out companies.

Associate Professor Gianni Renda is the Department Chair of Architectural and Industrial Design at Swinburne University of Technology who will undertake a 12-month project with IDE Group to develop project management, quality assurance, documentation and stakeholder management skills for the medical device industry. A/Prof Renda will operate within an ISO 13485 certified Quality Management System and develop (with Eudaemon Technologies) a User Centred Design & Medical Device Development pathway to help facilitate design-driven translational outcomes from fundamental research.

Professor Brian Abbey, a Physics Professor from La Trobe University, will undertake a 12-month project with Leica Biosystems, a cancer diagnostics company and global leader in workflow solutions, focused on validating the commercialisation of a new nanotechnology platform for bioimaging of difficult-to-diagnose cancers. Professor Abbey will determine the regulatory pathway and perform essential market validation necessary to bring the tool to market for cancer diagnosis to enable better outcomes for cancer patients.

Professor Sudha Rao is a Group Leader, Gene Regulation and Translational Medicine Laboratory from QIMR Berghofer who will undertake a 20-month project with Max Kelsen, an artificial intelligence and machine learning consultancy firm providing end-to-end solutions for healthcare applications, to increase her machine learning, product development, commercialisation and IP skills. Professor Rao will develop a clinic-ready AI-driven blood test for severe COVID-19 to predict individual risk of developing severe disease in the community setting or when hospitalised.

Associate Professor Michelle Hill is a Principal Research Fellow / Group Leader from QIMR Berghofer who will undertake a 12-month project with Microba Life Sciences Limited, a precision microbiome science company driving the discovery and development of novel therapeutics, to gain skills in business operations, product development and commercialisation. A/Prof Hill will work on identifying gut microbial biomarkers for metastatic melanoma to inform the development of therapeutic candidates to be used in conjunction with Immune Checkpoint Inhibitor (ICI) therapies, and companion diagnostic biomarkers.

Dr Paola Favuzza is a Senior Research Officer at WEHI who will undertake a 12-month project with Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV), a leading product development partnership working to reduce the burden of malaria worldwide. From MMV’s office in Switzerland, Dr Favuzza will develop skills in R&D project management and the conduct of GLP and GCP compliant non-clinical and clinical studies. Dr Favuzza will progress antimalarial candidates through the R&D pipeline from lead optimisation through to early phase clinical trials.

Associate Professor Zoe McKeough is an Associate Professor in Physiotherapy and a senior researcher in the Respiratory and Cardiac Rehabilitation and Management (ResCaRM) Research Team from the University of Sydney. A/Prof McKeough will undertake a 12-month project with Perx Health, a digital care company building programs for daily condition management, to gain hands-on skills and experience in designing and building digital health technology for healthcare. A/Prof McKeough will build a commercially-ready mobile pulmonary rehabilitation program integrated with the Perx digital health platform.

Dr Mehra Haghi is a Senior Lecturer from University of Technology Sydney who will undertake a 12-month project with Pharmaxis Ltd, a Sydney-based clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company specialising in drug development for inflammatory and fibrotic diseases, to gain skills in preclinical development of compounds and commercial endpoints decisions in the pharmaceutical industry. Dr Haghi will work on a drug discovery project for a small molecule inhibitor for a topical anti-inflammatory drug for skin inflammation.

Associate Professor Suong Le is a Consultant Gastroenterologist and Hepatologist from Monash Health who will undertake a 7-month project with Planet Innovation, a healthtech innovation and commercialization company, to train in agile development methodology and develop skills to commercialise a digital health product. A/Prof Le will produce a world first digital therapeutic, to increase engagement testing and treatment for Australians living with Hepatitis C Virus who are not currently engaged in conventional models of healthcare.

Dr Peyman Obeidy is a Clinical Image Analyst from The University of Sydney who will undertake a 12-month project with Siemens Healthineers, a leading medtech company, to gain skills in specification, validation, and regulatory requirements and market positioning digital products. Together with Siemens and iCoreLab, a company that specialises in medical data handling, Dr Obeidy will use A.I. powered algorithms to identify Biomarkers for early coronary artery disease risk identification and stratification.

Dr Emma Sweeney is a Postdoctoral Researcher from The University of Queensland who will undertake a 12-month project with SpeeDx Pty Ltd, a developer of innovative molecular diagnostic solutions, to develop skills designing molecular compounds and industry-level diagnostic R&D. Dr Sweeney will develop and clinically validate a commercial resistance test to improve the treatment of M. genitalium infection – antimicrobial resistant superbug.

Dr Elke Hacker is a Research Fellow from Griffith University who will undertake a 12-month project with Vaxxas, an Australian biotechnology company commercialising a novel needle-free vaccination technology, the High-Density Microarray Patch (HD-MAP). Dr Hacker will gain skills in quality management and medical device manufacturing to support future vaccination delivery, including for pandemic response. Dr Hacker will conduct clinical trials testing a suite of training resources educating healthcare workers on how to use the HD-MAP device.

About REDI Fellowship Program

The REDI Fellowship Program provides up to $250,000 per fellow, per annum. It offers the flexibility of full and part-time fellowships over a six-month to two-year period and can support domestic and international fellowships.