Entrepreneur tackling a cause of blindness

A visionary idea to re-purpose a veterinary medicine to treat and help eliminate river blindness has been acknowledged with this year’s top award from the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering.

Mark sullivan
Mark Sullivan

Mark Sullivan received the Clunies Ross Award for Entrepreneurship for re-establishing manufacturing, undertaking pre-clinical and clinical trials, assembling the regulatory submission and winning approval for human use of a new drug, moxidectin. 

His company, Medicines Development for Global Health, is the first not-for-profit company to win solo US FDA approval for a new medicine. 

This year it is introducing moxidectin into Africa and beginning development for four other tropical diseases affecting disadvantaged communities all over the world.

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. 

The award was one of eight presented at the annual ATSE Innovation and Excellence Awards which – in keeping with the times – were run as an online event.

You can watch the ceremony and brief videos about each winner online.

The other winners are:

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.

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Clunies Ross Award for Knowledge Commercialisation: Dr Grant Douglas, Land and Water at CSIRO: environmentally-friendly solution to toxic algae.

Batterham Medal: Associate Professor Pauline Pounds, University of Queensland:  new generation of precision drones.

ICM Agrifood Award: Professor Michelle Colgrave, Edith Cowan University and CSIRO: ultra-low-gluten barley.

ICM Agrifood Award: Dr Greg Falzon, now at Flinders University, formerly of University of New England: AI transforming agriculture.

Ezio Rizzardo Polymer Scholarship: Charmaine Hee, PhD candidate at University of Western Australia: self-assembling polymers for personalised medicine.

David & Valerie Solomon Award: Dr Gang  Li, University of Melbourne: a new technique to capture greenhouse gases

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