2017 Clunies Ross Entrepreneur of the Year: Professor Andrew Wilks FTSE
25 YEARS BUILDING A BLOOD CANCER DRUG
Professor Andrew Wilks FTSE has made key contributions to the development of a successful new drug for the treatment of haematological malignancies such as Idiopathic Myelofibrobrosis, a highly malignant condition caused by the inappropriate activation of JAK2, a cellular enzyme he discovered in 1989. The story spans nearly 30 years, from his discovery of this important cellular enzyme, through to the design and development in 2005 of a new drug, known as Momelotinib, that has recently successfully completed Phase 3 trials to treat patients with this and other diseases.
Professor Wilks, now co-founder and Executive Chairman of the SYNthesis med chem Group, has completed a rare “trifecta” – discovering and patenting a number of important drug discovery targets (JAK1 and JAK2); founding and raising funds for the establishment of one of Australia’s most successful biotech company, Cytopia (later merged into Canada’s YM BioSciences and ultimately sold to Gilead Sciences); and co-inventing and leading the team that delivered Momelotinib.
2017 Clunies Ross Knowledge Commercialisation Awardee: Mr Darryn Smart
PROTECTING OUR TROOPS FROM IEDs
Improvised explosive devices (IEDs) take a daily physical and emotional toll in Afghanistan and other conflict zones. Mr Smart has researched radio-activated IEDs and developed novel counter-IED units to protect individual Australian Defence Force (ADF) soldiers and vehicles as well as coalition partners.
Mr Smart is Group Leader, Communications and Electronic Warfare, at the Defence Science and Technology Group, based at Edinburgh, South Australia. In this role he led the IED Countermeasure system development team that developed four unique protection systems and devices then took them through commercialisation with an estimated benefit of $61 million. The products showcase how Australia’s cutting-edge technological development can make an impact on the global stage.
He has more than 30 years’ expertise in electronic warfare and is credited with having a profound impact on the cultural environment within the defence scientific community through leading and managing teams across large multi-disciplinary activities.
2017 Clunies Ross Innovation Awardee: Professor Mike Xie FTSE
ESO/BESO CHANGES THE WAY WE BUILD THINGS
Prof Mike Xie FTSE, Director of the Centre for Innovative Structures and Materials at RMIT University, has made significant contributions to the original development and subsequent adoption of a technology known as Evolutionary Structural Optimisation (ESO) and Bidirectional ESO (BESO).
This technology has been used to design many landmark buildings and other novel products around the world. Major companies in Australia including Arup, Boeing and Thales have collaborated with Professor Xie to design light-weight and high-performance structures and materials using ESO/BESO.
The original ESO technique, first proposed by Professor Xie’s team in 1992, was based on the simple concept of gradually removing inefficient material from a structure so that the resulting shape would evolve towards the optimum. A more robust technique known as BESO, which was introduced by Professor Xie’s team a few years later, allows material to be removed and added simultaneously by redistributing the under-utilised material to the most needed locations.