Dr Gulab was named NZBIO Young Bioscientist of the Year by the New Zealand Biotechnology Industry Association in an awards ceremony at its recent conference held in Wellington.
Dr Gulab is the Chief Executive Officer of Avalia Immunotherapies Ltd, a biotech company she helped establish to bring a novel vaccine therapy to the clinic.
The company was founded by Viclink (the University’s commercialisation office) and Malaghan Institute of Medical Research, with investment from Powerhouse Ventures and the New Zealand Venture Investment Fund. Additional funding also came from the Kiwi Innovation Network and a Callaghan Innovation Technology Incubator Loan.
The vaccine technology is based on the work of Victoria’s Ferrier Research Institute, in collaboration with the Malaghan Institute and the University of Otago.
The technology aims to harness the body’s own immune system to treat a specific cancer or infectious disease.
Dr Gulab, who gained degrees in science and technology, and business at Victoria before completing a PhD in Chemistry at the University, is based in New York, where she is developing Avalia’s business to progress the therapy to the human clinical trial stage.
She says the NZBIO award is very special. “New Zealand’s biotech community is smart and innovative, so it’s great to be recognised by my inspirational peers and mentors from across the industry.
“The development of Avalia’s vaccine technology is very much a collaborative effort, so the award is a wonderful recognition for the work of my colleagues as well.”
Dr Gulab says being based in the United States is a fantastic opportunity to promote the best of New Zealand’s scientific work.“I pride myself in finding ways to turn scientific findings into real-world outcomes. We have incredible science happening in New Zealand and it is a privilege to play a role in sharing it with the rest of the world.”