Wednesday, October 7, 2015 - 17:00
Professor Maree Smith (centre), with Johnson & Johnson Medical CEO Gavin Fox-Smith and AusBiotech CEO Dr Anna Lavelle
Professor Maree Smith (centre), with Johnson & Johnson Medical CEO Gavin Fox-Smith and AusBiotech CEO Dr Anna Lavelle

The University of Queensland’s Professor Maree Smith and the company founded on the ground-breaking pain drug she developed have won awards at the AusBiotech 2015 Conference.

The Johnson & Johnson Innovation 2015 Industry Excellence Awards, announced in Melbourne today, recognise individuals and organisations that have made a significant contribution to the biotechnology industry and continue to make a difference to the growth of the bio-economy.

Spinifex Pharmaceuticals, a company founded by UQ’s commercialisation company UniQuest in 2015, was successful in the Australian Company of the Year category.

Professor Smith, the inventor of Spinifex’s lead drug candidate for chronic pain, took out the Industry Leadership Award which recognises passion, enthusiasm and commitment to the industry.

UniQuest chief executive Dr Dean Moss said the awards added to an impressive list of achievements for Spinifex and Professor Smith.

“Spinifex was acquired in July this year by global pharmaceutical giant Novartis AG for an upfront cash payment of US$200 million, plus undisclosed clinical development and regulatory milestone payments,” Dr Moss said. 

“It is thought to be one of the largest deals in Australian biotechnology history – a reflection of the wonderful work of CEO Tom McCarthy and his team in growing the company, developing an attractive pipeline and guiding their chronic pain treatments through the regulatory and approval process.

“These treatments, which are based on Professor Smith’s work, are now on the threshold of the marketplace.  They are set to bring a new approach to pain management for millions of pain sufferers around the world. 

“Professor Smith has pursued translational research at UQ for more than 20 years and played an active and integral role in the global biotech industry.  It’s wonderful to see her tireless efforts recognised on the national stage.”

Media: Nicole Cowan, Uniquest, 0409 797 199, n.cowan@uniquest.com.au