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HomeminewsAustralian River Blindness Cure Recognised

Australian River Blindness Cure Recognised

Founder and Managing Director of Medicines Development for Global Health, Mr Mark Sullivan has been awarded the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering’s top annual award, for his new approach to a tropical disease that is a leading cause of blindness.

The Clunies Ross Award was announced at the 2020 Academy of Technology and Engineering’s (ATSE) Innovation and Excellence Awards on 30 July 2020.

This is a remarkable achievement particularly as the availability of the drug will change strategies for treatment of this infectious disease

Mr Sullivan recognised the importance of re-purposing a veterinary medicine to treat and help eliminate river blindness.

River blindness is the world’s second-most common cause of blindness due to infection and is caused by a parasitic worm, affects some of the world’s poorest communities.

Mr Sullivan raised the capital required to re-establish manufacturing, undertake pre-clinical and clinical trials, assembled the regulatory submission and won the approval for human use of a new drug, moxidectin.

In doing so, Mr Sullivan’s company became the first not for profit company in history to win solo US FDA approval for a new medicine.

This year, Mr Sullivan’s company is starting the process of introducing moxidectin into the African setting and beginning development for four other tropical diseases affecting disadvantaged communities all over the world.
Mr Sullivan said it was an extraordinary honour to be receiving the Clunies Ross Award for Entrepreneur of the Year.

“I’ve worked for 30 years in pharmaceutical development as part of multinational, multidisciplinary teams developing new medicines for HIV and hepatitis B,” Mr Sullivan said.

“I have always happily contributed my scientific and operational skills without any expectation of recognition.

“So to have such a prestigious recognition of my work with this Award is something I never envisaged but am absolutely delighted with.”

ATSE President, Professor Hugh Bradlow congratulated Mr Sullivan on his award, saying it was fitting recognition for creating a new pharmaceutical model for neglected tropical diseases.

“The drug moxidectin has the potential to eliminate river blindness,” Professor Bradlow said.

“This is a remarkable achievement particularly as the availability of the drug will change strategies for treatment of this infectious disease.”

Mr Sullivan was one of several recipients to receive an ATSE Innovation and Excellence Award at a live streamed ceremony on 30 July 2020. The award winners came from a range of fields including biotech, agriculture and engineering – and from across small and large private, government and academic organisations.

Much of the work awarded through the 2020 ATSE Awards is already being applied across a range of industries, and some is well on its way to being available for commercial use.

ATSE Innovation and Excellence Award Winners

• Clunies Ross Award for Entrepreneurship – Mr Mark Sullivan, Managing Director of Medicines Development for Global Health: eliminating river blindness
• Clunies Ross Award for Innovation – Dr Alison Todd, Chief Scientific Officer and Dr Elisa Mokany, Chief Technology Officer of SpeeDx Pty Ltd: molecular lego opening the door to personalised medical diagnosis
• Clunies Ross Award for Knowledge Commercialisation – Dr Grant Douglas, Senior Principal Research Scientist in Land and Water at CSIRO: environmentally-friendly solution to toxic algae
• Batterham Medal – Associate Professor Pauline Pounds, Associate Professor in Mechatronics at University of Queensland: new generation of precision drones
• ICM Agrifood Award – Professor Michelle Colgrave, Professor of Food and Agricultural Proteomics at Edith Cowan University and CSIRO: ultra low-gluten barley
• ICM Agrifood Award – Dr Greg Falzon, Associate Professor of Precision Agriculture Systems in the College of Science and Engineering at Flinders University (formerly of University of New England): AI transforming agriculture
• Ezio Rizzardo Polymer Scholarship – Ms Charmaine Hee, PhD Candidate at University of Western Australia: self-assembling polymers for personalised medicine
• David & Valerie Solomon Award – Dr Gang (Kevin) Li, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Melbourne: a new technique to capture greenhouse gases

Academy President, Professor Hugh Bradlow warmly congratulated all the award winners.

“One of the key roles of the Academy is to celebrate excellence and thus our annual Awards night is one of the highlights of ATSE’s calendar,” Professor Bradlow said.

“The 2020 ATSE Awards celebrate Australian success stories, where engineering, applied science and technology are improving existing Australian industries and creating new ones.

“My congratulations to the winners of this year’s Innovation and Excellence awards. I look forward to seeing their work transform Australia’s agriculture, healthcare, and environmental management for years to come.”
View the 2020 ATSE Innovation and Excellence Awards and see further information about the Awards and this years’ winners: www.atse.org.au/2020atseawards.