Experienced biotech executive Jennifer Barnes has joined Burnet Institute as the inaugural Director of the Burnet Diagnostics Initiative (BDI).
The former CEO of Junofem, a women’s health medical device company, Barnes brings to the role an impressive record, spanning leadership roles in science and commercialism, 12 years with the Asia-Pacific team at Roche, and experience with start-ups, research translation and product development.
The bold and ambitious BDI is a multidisciplinary team that will build on Burnet’s long-term capacity for engagement in the point-of-care In Vitro Diagnostics (IVD) industry and its 15-year track record in diagnostic development focused on unmet health needs.
Burnet has developed a number of immunoassay products, especially point-of-care (POC) assays but also lab-based (ELISA) tests, including the WHO pre-qualified and Global Fund-endorsed CD4 T cells (HIV): VISITECT® CD4 and VISITECT® CD4 (Advanced Disease) POC tests licensed by Omega Diagnostics, UK.
Burnet Institute Director and CEO, Professor Brendan Crabb AC said Jennifer Barnes’ appointment and the new BDI underscored the Institute’s commitment to further invest in novel ways to solve the most challenging global health problems.
“The new BDI under Jen’s experienced leadership, will translate existing and new technologies to practical health solutions and products, and vitally, maximise their accessibility to vulnerable populations especially in the Asia-Pacific region,” Professor Crabb said.
“We are delighted such an experienced biotech executive is joining our team at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted the need for innovative, scientific solutions to the health challenges we face now and in the future.”
Barnes said she was very excited by the opportunity to join Burnet’s experienced team and drive new development and commercial opportunities.
“The creation of the Burnet Diagnostics Initiative is a forward-thinking step for the Institute and it’s a rare and exciting opportunity to be part of,“ Barnes said.
“Engagement between research institutions and the In Vitro Diagnostics industry has been underutilised so there is great opportunity to develop new partnerships.
“Before COVID-19, diagnostics was an undervalued science. The world now appreciates the need for fast, affordable diagnostic tests, and Burnet Institute is well placed to capitalise on this realisation.
“Translational research is very rewarding; there is nothing better than seeing an IVD leave the lab and be in the hands of a commercial testing facility or a patient to support positive health outcomes.”
> ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR DAVID ANDERSON TO BE CHIEF SCIENTIST, DIAGNOSTICS
Associate Professor Anderson, who has pioneered the Institute’s work in point-of-care diagnostics, will take on the role as Chief Scientist, Diagnostics within the BDI.
He said he was delighted to welcome Jennifer Barnes to Burnet to lead the BDI.
“COVID-19 has added further challenges and opportunities in diagnostics on top of what was already a rapidly expanding pipeline of projects within the Institute, and I am delighted Jen will lead the Burnet Diagnostics Initiative and especially to sharpen our commercial focus,” Associate Professor Anderson said.
“We have always had a strong commitment to translation and commercialisation so that our products can reach the populations most at need, whether through licensing such as VISITECT® CD4 with Omega Diagnostics UK, or co-development of other products together with our spinoff Nanjing BioPoint Diagnostics, which provides us with a low-cost, GMP manufacturing base.
“We have lacked the specific focus and skillset in final commercialisation efforts which Jen’s experience, enthusiasm and leadership will provide.”