Kevin Pfleger
Chair of the Executive Committee

Professor Pfleger is Director Biomedical Innovation at The University of Western Australia (UWA) and the MTPConnect Western Australian Life Sciences Innovation Hub. He is also Head of Molecular Endocrinology and Pharmacology at the UWA Centre for Medical Research (Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research), Deputy Director of the Australian Research Council Centre for Personalised Therapeutics Technologies, and Chief Scientific Advisor of Dimerix, a spin-out company from UWA of which he was CSO from 2008 to 2014. Kevin was awarded his MA and PhD from Cambridge and Edinburgh Universities respectively. He has received numerous accolades, including WA Young Scientist of the Year 2009, an NHMRC Ten of the Best Award in 2010 with the tag-line ‘Young Entrepreneur’, the 2011 Australian Museum 3M Eureka Prize for Emerging Leader in Science, an NHMRC Research Excellence Award 2014, the Novartis Prize of the British Pharmacological Society 2016 and UWA Innovation Champion 2018. Kevin is President Elect of the Australasian Society of Clinical and Experimental Pharmacologists and Toxicologists (ASCEPT), is a member of the International Advisory Group of the British Pharmacological Society, the Life Sciences WA Committee and the WA State Committee of AusBiotech, and serves as the Commercialisation Representative on the WAHTN Management Committee.

Kristen Houston
Program Lead at the Centre for Entrepreneurial Research and Innovation

Kristen Houston received a BSc in Pharmacology and Anatomy from The University of Western Australia in 2014. After periods as a Research Assistant at the University of Newcastle and Executive Assistant to John Beech, Kristen became Project Officer of Accelerating Australia in March 2017 and subsequently Operations Manager from February 2019 to March 2020. Kristen was the Perth Biodesign Program Manager from March 2017 to April 2021, before commencing her current role at CERI.  

Michael Wallach
Associate Head of School, School of Life Sciences, University of Technology Sydney
Professor Wallach has over 30 years of experience in molecular parasitology with a wealth of experience in both academic and industrial science. He was the inaugural Director of a key research institute, IBID, at UTS in 2002. In 2008, Michael established a new course in Bio-Innovation and Entrepreneurship where graduates work in small teams to form creative innovative ideas for medical health products. This course has been given locally and internationally, now becoming a key part of SPARK Global having been run in Stanford, Tokyo, Berlin and Sydney. In 2013, he was appointed as the inaugural Director of the SPARK Sydney program, which was established by UTS and the University of Sydney, to emulate the Stanford SPARK program. Furthermore, Michael is playing a key role in building SPARK Global, and is the co-Director of SPARK Oceania.
Kiara Bechta-Metti
Director, Adelaide Enterprise, University of Adelaide
Kiara Bechta-Metti is the Director, Adelaide Enterprise, the technology transfer office for the University of Adelaide, which has a mandate to accelerate commercialisation through licensing and new start-up companies. Kiara has more than 20 years' experience in technology commercialisation, finance and new business creation in Australia and the United States. From 2005-2014, Kiara led the commercialisation on a wide range of technologies developed at CSIRO across the fields of agriculture, food, health and mining. Prior to CSIRO, she was a financial analyst in equities research at global financial firms UBS and Deutsche Bank, with a focus on healthcare, medical device and biotechnology companies. Kiara started her career working for several Silicon Valley-based biotechnology firms, after completing her degree from UC Berkeley in Molecular and Cellular Biology.
Laurence Meagher
Director, ARC Training Centre in Cell and Tissue Engineering Technologies, Monash University
Professor Meagher is the Director of SPARK Monash and Co-Director of SPARK Oceania. He is a Professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Monash University, is Director of the ARC Training Centre in Cell and Tissue Engineering Technologies, and leads a research group working in multidisciplinary, clinically focussed translational research. His research group has a particular focus on bioactive surface coatings for medical devices, bioprinting with a cardiac and neural focus, materials for stem cell expansion and control of fate and antimicrobial materials. Laurence received his PhD from the Australian National University, carried out postdoctoral studies at The University of Melbourne and the University of Illinois and was a Senior Principal Research Scientist at CSIRO for 16 years working with companies on the translation of medical materials.
Paul Young
Director of the Respiratory Technology Department at the Woolcock Institute and CEO of Ab Initio Pharma

Professor Paul M Young is Director of Biodesign Sydney, CEO of Ab Initio Pharma, an Australian based pharmaceutical company, and Professor of Respiratory Technology at the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research. He was previously the inaugural Chair of Commercialisation in the Faculty of Medicine and Health at the University of Sydney. His focus is to translate basic and applied sciences into commercial innovations that have real world applications and to drive a culture change in entrepreneurship. His research team focusses on developing advanced drug delivery systems for treating a wide range of respiratory disorders ranging from asthma to tuberculosis.

Daniel Hoyer
Chair of Pharmacology, University of Melbourne
Professor Hoyer's research career can be traced from his PhD in Pharmacology (1981), DSc (1986 Strasbourg), post-doctoral work (University of Pennsylvania, Medical School, Pharmacology), via Cardiovascular Research at Sandoz (Basel, 1983) to the CNS division (1989). At Novartis, Daniel worked on both drug development and basic science projects, e.g. genomics of depression and schizophrenia (MPRC, Baltimore; Scripps & GNF, La Jolla); peptide receptors and their chemistry (European Consortium). His recent interests were in epilepsy, sleep disorders, RNAi and epigenetics. Daniel has published over 300 papers, and was one of the top 10 most cited researchers in pharmacology. He is/was a member of the British and German Pharmacological Societies, European College of Neuropsychopharmacology, Society for Neurosciences, served on the Scientific Council of Institut Pasteur and on the Council and a Director of the BPS. Daniel has served as Editor of European Journal of Pharmacology, Neuropharmacology, Current Opinion in Pharmacology, Current Drugs, Drug Discovery Today, Journal of Receptors & Signal Transduction, Pharmacology & Therapy. He is currently a Senior Editor of Psychopharmacology, Naunyn Schmiedeberg's Archives of Pharmacology, Encyclopedia of Psychopharmacology and British Journal of Pharmacology.
Paul Rolan
Director of Innovation, University of Adelaide
Professor Paul Rolan is a clinical pharmacologist, drug developer and physician whose career has been divided between university and pharmaceutical industry both in Australia and the UK. He took a key role in developing a university spin out clinical research company in Manchester, UK to becoming the largest clinical research unit in the country. He has been principal investigator in over 700 clinical research studies with particular expertise in lean, focused proof-of-concept programs. He returned to Australia in 2005 where he was Professor of Clinical Pharmacology at the University of Adelaide before joining a small team taking the first Singaporean based pharmaceutical company to listing on the local stock market. Since 2016 he has been the Director of Innovation at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences at the University of Adelaide, bringing innovations to undergraduate and postgraduate education including a focus on commercialisation and entrepreneurial skills. Additionally he continues to advise pharmaceutical companies on drug development and is an angel investor.
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