About Us

About Us

Activating the immune system

Avalia Immunotherapies is a company committed to developing immunotherapies that support the treatment of cancer and other diseases. At our core, we develop therapeutic vaccines that can activate the most powerful immune cells in the body. Our underpinning technologies originate from four of New Zealand’s leading research institutes and are the focus of in-depth pre-clinical development by Avalia.

Chief Executive

Shivali Gulab Ph.D.

New York based, Dr. Gulab has over nine years experience in research, the development of pre­clinical assets and partnering of novel candidates developed by leading research groups in NZ and the USA. She routinely leads negotiations with global partners that generate successful partnerships and deliver pre­clinical assets targeting a range of indications. Dr Gulab authored a number of peer reviewed papers during her tenure as Senior Scientist at the Ferrier Research Institute of Victoria University. She is a named inventor on granted US patents which have resulted in significant returns to the licensee. Dr Gulab has a PhD in chemistry and bachelor degrees in management, marketing and chemistry.

Chief Science Officer

I​an Hermans Ph.D.

D​r Hermans is one of two founding scientists whose research career in the field of T cell immunology has set the development agenda for Avalia Immunotherapies. In addition to his role with Avalia, Associate Professor Hermans is Deputy Director of Research at the Malaghan Institute, overseeing the institute's involvement in cancer vaccine development. In 2001, he held a position at the Tumour Immunology Unit, Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine, at the University of Oxford, UK. In 2005 Dr Hermans was awarded a Sir Charles Hercus Research Fellowship from the Health Research Council of New Zealand to pursue his research into improving the potency and efficacy of vaccines by exploiting the activity of NKT cells. Dr Hermans has authored over 60 peer reviewed publications and is a named inventor on several patents.

Chief Technology Officer

Gavin Painter Ph.D.

Dr Painter is one of two founding scientists whose extensive work in the field of chemical immunology has resulted in the foundation patents that are licensed to Avalia Immunotherapies. Dr Painter received his PhD in organic chemistry from the University of Otago, New Zealand and completed his post­doc at the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom in the evaluation of PI3K signal transduction pathways. Dr Painter holds a number of professional distinctions, he holds a Professorship at Victoria University of Wellington, is a Fellow of the NZ Institute of Chemistry, a member of the Australian Society of Immunology, and a member of the NZ Society of Oncology. He has authored over 50 peer reviewed publications and is a key inventor across nine patent families including US patent US20040063973 A,1 which has resulted in over $16 million in global sales.

Board of Directors

Ashley Dunn Ph.D.

Ashley Dunn (Chair) has been involved in cancer research since 1984, when he and colleagues isolated the first clone of GM-CSF, a cytokine which is today given clinically to aid recovery of bone marrow in cancer patients following chemotherapy treatment. In 1982 he joined the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research in Melbourne, Australia where he headed the Molecular Biology Program. He was appointed the Institute’s Associate Director in 1992 and served until 2004. Professor Dunn has served on numerous national and international committees and scientific boards. He is an Honorary Professorial Fellow of the University of Melbourne, and has authored more than one hundred scientific publications. He was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science in 1996 and is currently an Honorary of the Department of Surgery at the University of Melbourne. Professor Dunn is now a science consultant and serves on a number of Boards and Advisory Boards within the biotechnology sector.

Board of Directors

Colin Dawson

Following ten years in veterinary clinical practice Colin held a number of senior executive positions in the primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare sectors in NZ. He was a founding partner of health consulting and investment banking firm Medicus Capital and was the inaugural CEO of Otago Innovation, the commercialisation arm of the University of Otago. Colin is a Chartered Fellow of the NZ Institute of Directors and has governance experience with a wide range of private and NZX-listed technology companies.

Board of Directors

Richard Furneaux Ph.D.

Richard Furneaux founded, and leads a world-renowned team of chemists at Victoria University of Wellington with a focus on the discovery and commercialization of Glycotherapeutics. Richard has established a number of international partnerships and research collaborations which have resulted in the team’s discoveries entering the clinic for treatments targeting leukaemia, lymphoma, gout, malaria and solid cancer tumours such. In additional to his research leadership he was pivotal in establishing cGMP manufacturing facility Glycosyn in 2003. Richard is a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand, and was awarded its Hector Medal in 2006. He has authored 225 publications, 32 reviews and 13 published patent series. He is also the NZ representative on the International Carbohydrate Organization.

Board of Directors

Graham Le Gros Ph.D.

Graham Le Gros was appointed Research Director of the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research in 1994, following a three year Fogarty Fellowship at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Washington DC, and a scientist position with Ciba-Geigy in Basel, Switzerland. He has been a recipient of an International Senior Wellcome Trust Fellowship and James Cook Fellowship. In 2005 he was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society in recognition of his research contributions to the

Board of Directors

Robert Peach Ph.D.

Chief Scientific Officer, Receptos, United States.
Dr Peach is co­founder of Receptos, a​ publicly listed biopharmaceutical company developing therapeutic candidates for the treatment of immune and metabolic diseases. Si​nce 2011, he has held the role of Chief Scientific Officer. From 2007 to 2009, Dr. Peach co­-founded and served as the Vice President of Biology for Apoptos, Inc., which Receptos acquired in May 2009. From 2005 to 2007, Dr. Peach was Senior Director of Oncology Discovery at Biogen Idec where he had responsibility for several bicoastal research programs. From 2001 to 2005, Dr. Peach served as Director of Antibody Discovery and Tumor Immunology at IDEC Pharmaceuticals and at the merged Biogen Idec where he worked on developing new autoimmune and oncology therapeutic opportunities. Prior to joining Biogen Idec, Dr. Peach held several research positions with increasing responsibility at Bristol Myers Squibb from 1991 to 2000. He received his B.S. and M.S. (1st class honors) from the University of Canterbury and a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Otago, New Zealand.

Board of Directors

Melissa Yiannoutsos

Melissa Yiannoutsos has spent over 15 years commercialising science for industrial, medical and biotechnology applications in New Zealand in both the private and public sector. She has extensive experience developing and implementing strategies for technology-led organisations and international negotiations. Prior to setting up commercialisation consultancy company, Kerasi Limited in 2008, which was sold to Powerhouse Ventures in 2014, Melissa managed commercialisation and investment portfolios at one of New Zealand’s Crown Research Agencies. During 2000-2003 she was responsible for establishing New Zealand’s first angel investment network, which attracted over $14 million in start up capital for New Zealand technology companies.

Science Advisor

Dale Godfrey Ph.D.

P​rofessor of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Melbourne, Australia.
Professor Godfrey​ is chair of the Avalia’s Scientific Advisory Board. He is a Professor at The University of Melbourne and an NHMRC Senior Principal Research Fellow. He is also a member of the executive committee (Past­President) of the Australasian Society for Immunology (ASI). Godfrey has published over 170 papers and has worked in the field of T cell biology for over 25 years, with a focus on T cell development and NKT cell biology where he has pioneered many studies into NKT cell development, function and antigen recognition. In recent years, Godfrey has extended his studies of T cells to include Type 1 and Type 2 NKT cells, gamma­delta T cells, CD1a, CD1b and CD1c restricted T cells, and Mucosal Associated Invariant T (MAIT) cells.

Science Advisor

Franca Ronchese Ph.D.

P​rofessor of Immune Cell Biology, Malaghan Institute, New Zealand.
P​rofessor Franca Ronchese completed her studies at the University of Padova, Italy, and spent four years as a post­doctoral researcher at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Washington DC. She then worked as an independent Scientific Member at the Basel Institute for Immunology, Switzerland, before being awarded a Malaghan Senior Research Fellowship to establish her research programme at the Malaghan Institute in 1994. Professor Ronchese is the current Australasian representative on the International Union of Immunological Societies Council.

Science Advisor

Rob Weinkove M.D. Ph.D.

W​ade Thompson Clinical Research Fellow and Clinical Director of the Clinical Human Immunology Laboratory, Malaghan Institute and Consultant Haematologist Capital & Coast.
D​r Robert Weinkove is a Consultant Haematologist at Wellington Blood & Cancer Centre and Clinical Director of the Clinical Human Immunology Laboratory at the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research in Wellington. He studied medicine at the University of Cambridge and at King's College London before undertaking post­graduate medical training at Guy's and St Thomas' Hospitals in London and the Medizinische Hochschule Hannover in Germany. He completed haematology specialist training in London in 2011. Dr Weinkove's doctoral research at the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research and the University of Otago examined invariant natural killer T cells in patients with leukaemia. His research interests include the use of innate­like T cells in cancer immunotherapy and his clinical interests include indolent lymphoproliferative disorders and supportive care in haemato­oncology. Dr Weinkove sits on the Scientific Advisory Committees of the Australasian Leukaemia & Lymphoma Group and Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand. He is a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians and of the Royal College of Pathologists of London.

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