Past student, Dr Alison Todd (1974), will share her extensive experience in the field of genetic diagnostics, including how an obstruction turned into an opportunity to address one of the world’s most pressing health concerns, when she returns to Brisbane for Grammar Women: Leaders and Game Changers.
Dr Todd, who has more than 30 years’ experience in the pharmaceutical industry, has developed 18 patents that have supported international clinical trials for patients with HIV, leukaemia and other tumours.
Her passion for inventing technology to meet unmet clinical needs was fostered while completing her PhD within the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Sydney.
Dr Todd then spent 15 years as a Senior Research Director at Johnson & Johnson, during which time she won the prestigious Johnson & Johnson Philip B. Hofmann Research Scientist Award—a global award for outstanding achievement in the field of research and development.
After the 2008 global financial crisis forced Johnson & Johnson to downsize their research program, Dr Todd decided to partner with one of her past PhD students, Dr Elisa Mokany, to establish SpeeDx, a company that manufactures and sells tests for detecting infectious pathogens and identifying antibiotic resistance.
Dr Todd, the company’s Chief Scientific Officer, says she enjoys being able to develop tests that help address serious global health issues.
‘I am extremely proud of our work that provides solutions for antimicrobial resistance, which the World Health Organisation recognises as one of the world’s most pressing health priorities.
Resistance to antibiotics is on the rise, and bugs that are resistant to multiple drugs are evolving. By being able to test if a patient is resistant to current drugs, a doctor can then prescribe antibiotics that best suit their individual needs’, Dr Todd said.
SpeeDx is driving clinical practice changes for infectious disease management around the world. A number of clinical studies into a world-first test SpeeDx created have indicated its potential to increase the cure rate of certain STIs by up to 30 per cent. The company is also working on new tests for respiratory diseases such as influenza, and is hoping to expand into Asia.
Dr Todd, a Senior Visiting Fellow at the University of New South Wales is passionate about mentoring the next generation of scientists and entrepreneurs, and countering the underrepresentation of women in senior positions in STEM.
‘Nearly 60 per cent of medical science and health graduates are women, but we hold only 20 per cent of senior leadership positions in the field’, she said.
In 2017, Dr Todd was chosen as one of six Boss True Leaders Game Changers for her work in fighting superbugs.
Dr Todd will return to Brisbane Girls Grammar School on 28 August 2019, as a guest speaker at Grammar Women: Leaders and Game Changers.