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DendriMed scientist seeks to fast-track success

Gleaning critical technical knowledge and building important international relationships is top of the agenda for rising Australian biotechnology star, DendriMed Research Director Dr Raisa Monteiro, when she meets with leading industry figures in the US in May.

One of two Australian life scientists chosen from a highly competitive field of candidates for the prestigious 2008 Advancing BioBusiness Award, Russian-born Dr Monteiro will attend the worlds largest biotechnology meeting, the Biotechnology Industry Organisation (BIO) convention, which attracts over 22,000 delegates from around the globe.

A tailored program of meetings will also be scheduled for her with leading American players including venture capital firms, research institutes, biotechnology entrepreneurs and biopharmaceutical companies, to help build valuable international networks, knowledge and collaborations.

The Advancing BioBusiness Award is an innovative scheme by Merck Sharp & Dohme and Advance, a dynamic, diverse global community of Australian professionals overseas committed to advancing Australia and Australians.

Russian-born Dr Monteiro, whose late father worked with the team that successfully cloned Dolly the sheep, is one of Australias brightest hopes in biotechnology, having moved here in 2002 with her Australian husband, an academic at the University of Queensland. During her 10-year career as a polymer scientist in America and Australia, she has notched up seven US patents with another three applications pending for technology she conceived and developed.

Now at DendriMed, her focus has turned to using smart polymer-based nanostructures to deliver drugs to targeted tissue and organs.

Dr Monteiro said through the Advancing BioBusiness Award, she wants to overcome the tyranny of distance and open up business opportunities in the global marketplace by meeting face-to-face with US biopharmaceutical heavyweights.

Successfully commercialising Australian technologies is not just about the merit of your science, but also knowing the right people, Dr Monteiro said. Networking with major players in the US makes distances shorter and bridges easier to cross.

Senator Kim Carr, Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, said: "The Advancing BioBusiness Award complements the Rudd Government's policy of promoting innovation and commercialisation in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical sector, encouraging closer links between Australian biotech and global pharmaceutical companies, and helping Australian biotechs access global supply chains."

Dr Phil Kearney, Merck Sharp & Dohmes manager for external scientific affairs, said Australia is recognised for its excellence in medical research and its vigorous and creative biotechnology industry. However the number of drug development projects which reach advanced clinical development is only a quarter of what would be predicted on the basis of our output in scientific literature.

By immersing two of our top biotechnology people in successful commercial research centres in the United States, and providing them with opportunities to share their learning back at home, we aim to build a stronger Australian capability to win in this highly competitive global knowledge market, he said.

The other recipient of the 2008 Advancing BioBusiness Award is Dr Christopher Wraight, Research Director, Antisense Therapeutics Ltd.


Contact: Jackie Crossman
Research Australia

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