Professor Maree Smith, the pain research innovator behind successful UniQuest start-ups QRxPharma Limited and Spinifex Pharmaceuticals Pty Ltd, has been awarded a 2012 Life Sciences Queensland (LSQ) Industry Award for Excellence.

The Award, selected by peer vote for the past four years, is presented to individuals who have made “significant contributions to the performance and success of the Queensland life sciences industry” and “demonstrated a breadth of impact across the sector in Queensland”.

Congratulating Professor Smith on this latest honour, UniQuest Managing Director, David Henderson, acknowledged the profound impact her ground-breaking research will have on pain therapies in the future.

“New drugs based on Professor Smith’s discoveries are close to market-ready, and that’s not only because of the quality and volume of her scientific endeavour; it’s also because she has played an active and integral role in the global biotech industry to accelerate access to a whole new approach to pain management,” Mr Henderson said.

“We are very proud to be working alongside Professor Smith to deliver commercial outcomes from her research, and we congratulate her and her team on drawing attention to the contribution Queensland university research is making towards common health issues affecting people all round the world.”

Professor Maree Smith has pursued life sciences translational research at UQ for over 20 years. Two key discoveries led to the formation of UniQuest start-up companies QRx Pharma Limited and Spinifex Pharmaceuticals.

QRxPharma was floated in 2007, listing on the Australian Securities Exchange with 25 million shares. It raised A$50 million, with an initial market capitalisation of A$150 million, setting an Australian record as the largest biotech IPO to date, and also the largest biotech capital raising at an IPO. Its lead candidate, MoxDuo is awaiting FDA approval.

In 2003, Professor Smith won a UniQuest Trailblazer for her idea for a novel analgesic, which has been developed by Spinifex Pharmaceuticals and shown to be effective in a recently completed Phase 2a clinical trial.

Professor Smith shared the LSQ Industry Excellence Award honour with Dr Jim Aylward, who patented Australia’s first FDA-approved cancer chemotherapeutic drug. The awards were presented in the presence of Her Excellency, Ms Penelope Wensley AC, The Governor of Queensland and the Patron of LSQ at the Life Sciences Queensland Limited Globally Engaging Network Event (GENE) on 26 October 2012.

About Professor Maree Smith

Professor Maree Smith is the co-founder and Executive Director of the UQ Centre for Integrated Preclinical Drug Development (CIPDD)/TetraQ, and a Professor of Pharmacy at UQ. In 2008, she received the Women in Technology Biotech Outstanding Achievement Award and in 2009 she was awarded Honorary Fellowship of the Faculty of Pain Medicine (ANZCA). In 2011, she was elected a New Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE). Professor Smith is Head of the Pain Research Group in the School of Pharmacy at UQ and directs its preclinical pharmacology research program, which focuses on improving our understanding of the mechanistic basis of a range of pain states and their pharmacological management, with a view to improving our ability to alleviate chronic pain in patients.

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