Professor Richard Furneaux, Institute Director of the Ferrier Research Institute, Victoria University of Wellington
Professor Richard Furneaux - Victoria University of Wellington
Carbohydrate chemistry delivers sweet success to NZ
The successful combination of Professor Richard Furneaux's scientific nous and entrepreneurial spirit has generated tens of millions of dollars of economic activity for New Zealand over the past 25 years—a direct result of his own, and his team's, research endeavours.
Starting out as a synthetic chemist, today Richard leads a team of 40 world-class scientists as Institute Director of the Ferrier Research Institute at Victoria University of Wellington. Innovations from this team include the first New Zealand-developed drug to gain registration since the 1980s and a breakthrough synthetic vaccine to treat cancer, allergies and autoimmune diseases.
Richard's passion for New Zealand means that he is always looking for ways in which science can add value to the country—whether it's starting up a new business (Avalia Immunotherapies and GlycoSyn), or collaborating with world-renowned scientists such as Professor Vern Schramm at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, to deliver a significant portfolio of licensed pharmaceutical candidates which could potentially generate millions for the New Zealand economy. Richard was involved in the synthesis of forodesine hydrochloride, the active ingredient in anti-lymphoma drug Mundesine®, licensed by BioCryst Pharmaceuticals Inc. Mundesine® has just been approved in Japan, making it only the second New Zealand invented drug compound to become a registered drug product.
A mentor to many, Richard's work is well recognised and highly respected by his peers and the business community; he has inspired many to take up the challenge of commercialising scientific discoveries during his own career.