'BioCurate strikes MOU with Novartis, eyes more 'Big Pharma deals'

by Ben Potter
Australian Financial Review

BioCurate, a joint venture of Monash and Melbourne universities for early stage commercialisation of pharmaceutical research, has struck an agreement with global pharmaceuticals giant Novartis to share research and accelerate discoveries of new drugs. 

Glenn Begley, chief executive of BioCurate, said the memorandum of understanding would cover a full range of research from the two universities, which snare more than 40 per cent of federal biomedical research grants between them, with an emphasis on areas of special interest to Novartis, such as oncology drugs.

Dr Begley, who started at BioCurate in January after 20 years in the US, said the deal was not exclusive and BioCurate would be free to strike similar arrangements with other pharma giants who are approaching the organisation. 

"One of the things that's been really exciting about BioCurate is the interest that has come from international pharmaceutical companies and VC firms around the world," he told The Australian Financial Review

Read more here:  https://www.afr.com/news/biocurate-strikes-mou-with-novartis-eyes-more-big-pharma-deals-20181031-h17cjk

New Staff Appointment - Dr Lorna Mitchell

BioCurate is very pleased to announce Dr Lorna Mitchell’s appointment as Senior Project Leader. 

BioCurate is focused on turning discoveries into therapeutics, and is building a team of highly-experienced individuals capable of working collaboratively to ensure the company’s success.

Dr Mitchell brings a depth and breadth of scientific expertise and 17 years of international drug discovery experience in the biotech and pharmaceutical industry.  With particular strengths in medicinal chemistry, Lorna brings a complementary and highly valuable skill-set to the BioCurate team as the company progresses the development plans for its first projects.  Together with her colleagues, Lorna will lead and manage the development of the BioCurate project portfolio from initial academic interaction through oversight and delivery of specific project milestones.  As Senior Project Leader she will work closely with the inventors, support the Universities to help build their capability in translational research and liaise closely with other key players required for the successful commercial development of projects.

Dr Mitchell has experience across multiple therapeutic areas including dermatology, antivirals, CNS and oncology.  She has had responsibility for leadership of diverse chemistry & cross-­disciplinary teams.  Lorna has been directly involved in delivery of 9 drug candidates to the clinic and in validation, or timely no-­go decisions, on multiple new targets and projects.

We are delighted that she has decided to join the BioCurate team!

Dr Lorna Mitchell will commence in her new role on 22 October 2018.

BioCurate Launches First Round of Project Investments

BioCurate Pty Ltd has achieved an important milestone with investments in six early drug discovery projects from research groups at The University of Melbourne and Monash University announced today. These projects represent the first tranche of investments for BioCurate.  

BioCurate’s CEO, Dr Glenn Begley said “I am delighted that BioCurate has taken this important next step. We are building on the combined research strength of these two outstanding Australian universities, accelerating and strategically guiding these high value projects to give them the best possible chance of commercial and clinical success.”

All of the projects have compelling clinical and commercial reasons to support their early investment and development. Each addresses an important unmet clinical need, adopts a novel approach and targets potential global markets.

BioCurate is pleased to have formally commenced its core business of targeting the critical early phases of drug development. The Company will take on several more projects throughout 2018 and will work across different therapeutic areas and modalities including small molecules, biologics and antibodies. Collaboration, cooperation and commercial rigour to achieve scale at the international level, will be the hallmarks of the Company’s approach

The development plan for each project identifies key ‘Go/No-Go’ gates with an early and consistent focus on ensuring the essential commercial imperatives of reproducible data and a clear intellectual property position.

Working closely and collaboratively with each of the project’s investigators and University colleagues, BioCurate is providing ‘on the ground’ expertise and mentoring in drug development and commercialisation, funding and project management. This, coupled with BioCurate’s extensive international industry experience in drug development and biopharmaceutical and investment networks, will boost the opportunity for these, and future, projects to undergo successful translation.

The successful investigator’s and their inaugural projects to enter BioCurate’s project pipeline are:

  • Dr Glen Carter and Prof Jonathan Baell - A novel class of antibiotics

  • Dr Natalie Borg and Prof David Jans - A new target for both viral infection and cancer

  • Profs Charles Mackay, Dr Remy Roberts and Prof Mark Sleeman - A novel therapeutic for cancer

  • Prof Rob Widdop, Prof Mibel Aguilar and Dr Mark Del Borgo - Anti-fibrotic therapy

  • Prof Ray Norton - A new treatment for autoimmune diseases

  • Dr Sheena McGowan and Prof Peter Scammells - Novel therapeutics for infection and cancer

About BioCurate Pty Ltd

BioCurate is a joint venture of the University of Melbourne and Monash University, supported by the Victorian State Government. Announced in June 2016, its founding universities are placed in the world’s top ten in the therapeutic areas of immunology, oncology, paediatrics, neurosciences, and infectious diseases.

BioCurate aims to be a recognised global leader in the translation of basic medical research into human therapeutics.            

The Company offers a new model, designed to address the key challenges in early stage drug development, and will focus on those stages of development before a project is attractive to the biomedical industry or venture capital funds. Its purpose is to increase the number, quality and rate of translation of new drug discoveries into medically sound and commercially attractive, investable projects.

BioCurate is also committed to helping develop the broader ecosystem and growing the local pipeline of high quality preclinical candidates for the bio-pharmaceutical industry. Increasing the number of ‘investment-ready’ projects will grow the Victorian and Australian biotech sector by attracting global interest in partnering and investment

BioCurate is owned jointly by the Universities and is independently governed and operated with the Hon John Brumby AO as Chair and Dr C.Glenn Begley as CEO.

Quotes from Monash University and the University of Melbourne:

Monash University’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President (Enterprise), Ken Sloan, welcomed the announcement. “BioCurate’s critical role as a catalyst across Universities, government and industry helps to accelerate improvements to the health of the community” Mr Sloan said. “We are delighted therefore to see the first cohort of research projects enter BioCurate’s pipeline for investment and development.”

Doron Ben-Meir, Vice-Principal (Enterprise) at the University of Melbourne, said “The unprecedented vision of BioCurate – to combine seasoned pharmaceutical industry professionals with our world class research substrate – is realising its first steps. It’s very exciting to see the first cohort of projects. We look forward to their continued development and to seeing many more promising candidates emerge from our growing pipeline of exceptional research.”

Quote from the Victorian Government Minister for Innovation and the Digital Economy, Philip Dalidakis:

Minster for Innovation and the Digital Economy Philip Dalidakis said “The Victorian Government is proud to support the early-stage drug development research lead by Melbourne and Monash Universities, whose combined expertise in the areas of pharmacology, immunology, neurosciences, and cardiology see them ranked among the world’s best. Congratulations to the successful researchers, whose projects have the potential to cure terrible diseases and improve patient care both across Victoria and around the world.”

ENDS

For more information on BioCurate: www.biocurate.com

Dr Begley is available for interviews.

For media enquiries please contact:
Linda Peterson
Chief Operating Officer and Company Secretary
Tel:  +61 419 320 435
E:  l.peterson@biocurate.com

Twitter: @biocurate
LinkedIn:https://www.linkedin.com/company/biocurate/

New Staff Appointments

Dr Glenn Begley is very pleased to advise of the following senior appointments to the positions of Chief Operating Officer and Senior Project Leader (two appointments).

These appointments signal the very important next stage for BioCurate. The Company has now established its operations and will soon be taking on its first projects. BioCurate will provide the management, commercial focus, international expertise and funding necessary to boost their successful translation and commercialisation.

Chief Operating Officer and Company Secretary
Linda Peterson has extensive experience across the academic, not for profit and corporate life sciences sector and has held positions in medical research, R&D, business management and executive leadership. Linda has been the Interim Chief Operating Officer and Company Secretary for BioCurate since July 2016. Working closely with the Board and University partners, Linda has been responsible for leading and managing all aspects of the set-up and independent operations of the company, including establishing the office facilities and back-office support arrangements, governance processes, operational systems and policies, communications and the recruitment of key staff. Immediately prior to joining BioCurate, Linda was the Executive Manager for the Bionics Institute and CEO of Bionic Enterprises Pty Ltd. Linda’s qualifications include a Bachelor of Science and post graduate qualifications in business administration.
Linda commenced in her new position of Chief Operating Officer and Company Secretary on 1 October, 2017.

Senior Project Leaders
Two outstanding and highly experienced professionals, Dr Catherine Drinkwater and Dr Eric Hayes have been appointed to the positions of Senior Project Leader. Their combined breadth of scientific expertise and project management experience bring valuable skills to the company as it prepares to take on its first projects. Drs Drinkwater and Hayes will lead and manage the development of the BioCurate project portfolio from initial academic interaction through oversight and delivery of specific project milestones. The Senior Project Leaders will work closely with the inventors, support the Universities to help build their capability in translational research and liaise closely with other key players required for the successful commercial development of projects.

Dr Catherine Drinkwater has extensive experience in both academic research and industry drug development. Following completion of her PhD at the Howard Florey Institute, Cathy went on to postdoctoral fellowships at Stanford University School of Medicine (California) and the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research. Since then she has worked in the commercial sector, as Principal Scientist at AMRAD Corporation (later Zenyth Therapeutics) and Project Manager at CSL, and at the research/industry/education “interface” with the Cancer Therapeutics CRC. During that time, she was responsible for leading and managing several early discovery and development projects, working with research teams to enhance their collaborative efforts and facilitate the timely delivery of their outcomes. Cathy has experience in a range of therapeutic areas including endocrinology, neurobiology, oncology, immunology and inflammation. Dr Drinkwater will commence in her new role on 13 November, 2017.

Dr Eric Hayes has academic, commercial drug development and pharmaceutical R&D support services experience, spanning over 25 years, in Europe, North America, Asia and Australia. Eric completed undergraduate and post-graduate studies in medical pharmacology at the University of British Columbia and the National University of Singapore. As a scientist, Eric has deep experience in preclinical drug development and supportive assay/model development. He has a breadth of therapeutic area experience including CNS, respiratory, metabolic, infectious diseases, cardiovascular and genitourinary diseases. As an entrepreneur, he has assisted academic and commercial individuals and institutions with discovery, development and commercialization of a variety of life-sciences technologies with a strong focus on human therapeutics development.  Dr Hayes will commence in his new role in early January, 2018.

CEO Appointed

An outstanding industry leader with exceptional national and global experience in successfully propelling important biomedical discoveries out of the lab and into the market has been appointed inaugural CEO of BioCurate Pty Ltd.  This AUD $80 million venture was launched last year by Monash University and the University of Melbourne and supported by the Victorian Government. The appointment is the result of an extensive international and national search.

Chair of BioCurate and former Premier of Victoria (2007-2010) the Hon. John Brumby AO today announced the appointment of Dr C. Glenn Begley as the CEO. Dr Begley has held senior academic positions in Australia, and worked in small biotech and large pharmaceutical companies. Most recently he was the Chief Scientific Officer of a privately-funded biotech company Akriveia Therapeutics, in California.

“I’m delighted to welcome Dr Begley back to Australia and into a pivotal role within this new enterprise,” Mr. Brumby said.

“Dr Begley brings an extraordinary combination of commercial, academic and clinical insight to this significant venture – the first of this scope and scale in Australia - whose ambition is to unlock the exceptional research capabilities of the University of Melbourne and Monash University and their partners in hospitals, medical institutes and industry, enabling significant new discoveries to be translated more rapidly into new medicines. The social and economic implications for Victoria and Australia are profound.”

A clinical haematologist and medical oncologist, whose academic and commercial roles include board level and senior positions in Australia, the USA and the UK, Dr Begley said he was looking forward to playing a leading role in shaping the strategic direction and operations of BioCurate Pty Ltd:

“I am delighted to be joining BioCurate at this important moment in its development,” Dr Begley said.

“Now more than ever it’s critical that important medical discoveries make it from the lab into new medicines and that the clinical and commercial benefits accrue to Australia. I am confident that BioCurate, building on the combined research strength of these two outstanding universities will ensure transformational drug candidates become a reality.”

Dr Begley will commence his appointment on 22 May 2017.

About BioCurate Pty Ltd

BioCurate is a joint venture of the University of Melbourne and Monash University, supported by the Victorian State Government. Announced in June 2016, its founding universities are placed in the world’s top ten in the therapeutic areas of immunology, oncology, paediatrics, neurosciences, and infectious diseases.

BioCurate offers a new model, designed to address the key challenges in early stage drug development, and will focus on those stages of development before a project is attractive to big pharma or venture capital funds. Its purpose is to increase the number, quality and rate of translation of new drug discoveries into medically sound and commercially attractive, investable projects.

BioCurate is owned jointly by the universities but is independently governed with the Hon. John Brumby as Chair and Dr. C. Glenn Begley as CEO.  

Quotes from Monash University and the University of Melbourne

Monash University’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President (Enterprise), Ken Sloan, welcomed the appointment of Dr Begley to the position of CEO of BioCurate Pty Ltd:

“It is fantastic that a leading scientific innovator like Dr Begley, with his wealth of international commercial and research expertise, has been attracted back to Australia to lead this remarkable venture,” Mr Sloan said.

“Dr Begley’s appointment is a strong indicator of Victoria’s and Australia’s growing global presence in the field of drug discovery and commercialization, catalyzed by the groundbreaking partnership between two world-leading universities.”

Doron Ben-Meir, Vice-Principal (Enterprise) at the University of Melbourne, welcomed the appointment of Dr C. Glenn Begley to lead BioCurate.

“Dr Begley brings exceptional knowledge and expertise in the scientific field and biotech industry and will lead us into an exciting new era of commercialisation via this enterprise, bringing together the world renowned expertise of Australia’s leading research universities of Melbourne and Monash,” Mr Ben-Meir said.

Quote from the Victorian Government Minister for Industry and Employment, Wade Noonan:

“Melbourne is quickly cementing its place as a world-leader in medical technologies and pharmaceuticals, and we’re attracting the world’s best and brightest minds to help the sector grow and create jobs.

BioCurate will facilitate strong growth for Victoria’s pharmaceutical sector. The collaboration is expected to generate about $360 million in activity over the next 10 years, supporting the creation of new companies, investment opportunities, exports, and more highly skilled jobs for this vital industry.” 

Dr C. Glenn Begley – biography

Most recently Dr C. Glenn Begley was Chief Scientific Officer at Akriveia Therapeutics, a Californian biotech company focused on discovering and developing the next generation of cancer immunotherapies. He was also a non-Executive Director for UK-based Oxford BioTherapeutics.

His previous roles include:

  • Chief Scientific Officer and Senior Vice-President, TetraLogic Pharmaceuticals (Pennsylvania)

  • Vice-President and Global Head, Hematology and Oncology Research, Amgen (California)

  • Executive Director, Western Australian Institute of Medical Research (Perth)

  • Senior Principal Research Fellow and Professor of Medicine, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, University of Melbourne

Dr Begley studied Medicine at undergraduate and postgraduate level at The University of Melbourne.

ENDS

Mr Brumby and Dr Begley are available for interviews.

For media enquiries please contact:

Linda Peterson
Chief Operating Officer (Interim)
Tel:  +61 419 320 435
E:  l.peterson@biocurate.com.au