Seiz­ing op­por­tu­nity how­ever small it may be

DR DEBORAH RATHJEN CEO, Bio­nomics, Aus­tralia

BioSpectrum (Asia) - - Bio Content -

Asea­soned biotech ex­ec­u­tive of over 20 years, Dr Deborah Rathjen joined Bio­nomics in June 2000 from Peptech Limited, where she was Man­ager of Busi­ness De­vel­op­ment and Li­cens­ing. She was a co-in­ven­tor of Peptech’s TNF tech­nol­ogy and leader of the com­pany’s suc­cess­ful de­fence of its key TNF patents against a le­gal challenge by BASF, pro­vid­ing Peptech with a strong com­mer­cial ba­sis for li­cens­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions with BASF, Cen­to­cor and other com­pa­nies with anti-TNF prod­ucts.

Cur­rently the CEO of Bio­nomics, she has been in­stru­men­tal in turn­ing Bio­nomics from a vir­tual com­pany into a no­table bio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal firm. Her role in the de­vel­op­ment of can­cer treating drugs and other med­i­ca­tions is a large con­tri­bu­tion to Bio­nomics’ cur­rent suc­cess in the biotech­nol­ogy mar­ket.

Dr Rathjen has sig­nif­i­cant ex­pe­ri­ence in com­pany build­ing and fi­nanc­ing, merg­ers and ac­qui­si­tions, ther­a­peu­tic prod­uct re­search and de­vel­op­ment, busi­ness de­vel­op­ment, li­cens­ing and com­mer­cial­iza­tion.

Un­der her lead­er­ship, Bio­nomics struck a po­ten­tially lu­cra­tive re­search deal with Amer­i­can phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal gi­ant Merck to de­fine new pain treat­ments.

The two-year re­search pro­gramme, if suc­cess­ful, has the po­ten­tial to yield up to US$172 mil­lion (A$191 mil­lion) through fees and mile­stone pay­ments for Bio­nomics and undis­closed roy­alty sales. Dr Rathjen men­tioned, “Hav­ing Merck as a part­ner not only has placed Bio­nomics on the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal map, but hav­ing them as in­vestors con­tin­ues to val­i­date our tech­nolo­gies and ex­per­tise.”

When asked about her suc­cess mantra, Dr Rathjen said, “A mantra of mine per­son­ally which has also been adopted at Bio­nomics is “N.O.W” – NO OP­POR­TU­NITY WASTED. Seiz­ing any op­por­tu­nity is how a small in­ter­ac­tion or chance meet­ing can turn into suc­cess­ful busi­ness. Why wait for to­mor­row to sched­ule that meet­ing or make that phone call.”

Shar­ing her thoughts on gen­der par­ity in the in­dus­try, Dr Rathjen says, “Women are in­her­ently plan­ners. Al­though there may be some dif­fer­ences in the way that males and fe­males plan their ca­reer, in­her­ently, women who want a ca­reer as well as a fam­ily must plan in or­der to en­sure the suc­cess of both. With re­spect to bi­ol­ogy, this is a ma­jor dif­fer­ence be­tween the sexes. Women must con­tinue to worry less about fit­ting into glass slip­pers and more about shat­ter­ing glass ceil­ings. To strive to make your mark in a male dom­i­nated in­dus­try.”

Dr Rathjen has been recog­nised both in Aus­tralia and in­ter­na­tion­ally through awards and hon­ours in­clud­ing the 2004 AusBiotech Pres­i­dent’s Medal, 2006 Flin­ders Univer­sity Distin­guished Alumni Award, 2009 BioSin­ga­pore Asia Pa­cific Biotech­nol­ogy Woman En­trepreneur of the Year, 2009 Re­gional Fi­nal­ist Ernst & Young - En­trepreneur of the Year, and 2014 Woman Ex­ec­u­tive of the Year BioPharm In­dus­try Awards. In 2015 Dr Rathjen was in­cluded in the Top 50 most in­flu­en­tial Aus­tralia busi­ness women by The Aus­tralian news­pa­per.

Speak­ing about chal­lenges in her ca­reer, Dr Rathjen said, “In the work place there are nu­mer­ous chal­lenges how­ever be­ing taken se­ri­ously not only as a woman in science but as a busi­ness­woman has been a par­tic­u­lar challenge. Bal­anc­ing fam­ily and ca­reer and hav­ing to prove that you can suc­cess­fully do both al­though, a challenge, has been some­thing I pride my­self on.”

CEO, Bio­nomics, Aus­tralia DR DEBORAH RATHJEN

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