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

Tim Bennett

Mr Tim Bennett joined as Chair in August 2017. Mr Bennett was previously CEO of the NZX, the New Zealand Stock Exchange (2012 to 2016), where he restructured the capital markets business and moved into funds management through a series of acquisitions. Prior to returning to New Zealand, Mr Bennett was a partner at Oliver Wyman (2009 to 2012) and Boston Consulting Group (1993 to 2008) in Asia. Mr Bennett completed his MBA at Wharton Business School.

Board of Directors

Graham Le Gros Ph.D.

Graham Le Gros Ph.D. 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 fields of immunology and asthma.  In 2014 Professor Le Gros was awarded an Honorary Fellowship from The Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia (RCPA).  In June 2014 he was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.  Professor Le Gros has responsibility for the Science, Administration and Fundraising programmes of the Malaghan Institute and he directly leads an active biomedical research programme in the area of Allergic and Parasitic diseases.

Board of Directors

Robert Peach Ph.D.

Co-founder, Receptos Inc, United States. Dr Peach was co-­founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Receptos Inc., a​ San Diego-based, NASDAQ-listed biotechnology company developing therapeutic candidates for the treatment of immune and metabolic diseases. Receptos was acquired by Celegene Corporation in August 2015 for $7.2 billion. 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. In addition to his role on the Board of Directors, Dr Peach is also a member of the Scientific Advisory Board.

Board of Directors

Melissa Yiannoutsos

Experienced in healthcare and medical commercialisation in both the private and public sector.  She has previously held roles in a NZ crown research institute (2001-2007) where she managed commercialisation activities and pre-seed funds.  She has held executive roles in technology start-ups, since 2012, growing international sales and distribution partnerships and securing investment capital.  Ms Yiannoutsos was pivotal in establishing NZ’s angel investment community with the launch of the first NZ angel network (MINE) which resulted in $14M investment in technology start-ups.

Science Advisor

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.

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.

© 2015 Avalia Immunotherapies

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