Professor Mark Kendall is a world-leading innovator in producing technology solutions to global health problems; and a translator of commercial technologies focusing on delivery of drugs to skin and skin-based disease diagnostics. Professor Kendall set himself the research and innovation challenge of asking the world to rethink the role of the needle and syringe as a method of both introducing vaccines to the body and extracting biological material. He is the inventor of the patented Nanopatch technology, which has many advantages over the more than 160-year-old hypodermic needle. The Nanopatch could level the global playing field in health, providing safe vaccinations to the developing world, potentially overcoming many of the challenges of the traditional needle as the design technology targets the immune-rich cells of the skin’s out layers (the epidermis and upper dermis) with an array of thousands of micro projections on a single patch. With vaccines dry-coated to the patch, this eliminates the need for vaccine cold chain and removes the need for electricity networks which are so often unreliable in developing countries.
Through his research, Professor Kendall has shown the Nanopatch generates equivalent and protective immune responses as the traditional needle, but only needs to deliver a small fraction of the dose (eg 1/100th) making this patch significantly cheaper and easy to apply.
International Links: Professor Kendall has key international links spanning academia and industry including the University of Oxford, where he was a lecturer. Professor Kendall has also links with Harvard, PATH (Program for Appropriate Technology in Health a program under the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation), World Health Organisation (WHO), and the University of Washington. He is a member of a Scientific Advisory Group sponsored by WHO that aims to fast-track the development of needle-free vaccine delivery technology for use in poor countries. His Nanopatch technology has been licensed to US-based pharmaceutical company Merck & Co. Professor Kendall has lectured at the University of Oxford. While there, he was instrumental in building up PowderJect/PowderMed, which was sold to Pfizer for $US400 million.
Memberships, patents and funding: Since 2001 Professor Kendall has received more than $60 million in competitive research funding and another $65 million from industry. He has a patent pool of over 130 patents, of which 65 have been granted. Professor Kendall edits papers in the Journal of Nanotechnology and Shock Waves Journal.
Awards, and Plenaries and Communication: Professor Kendall has a passion for communicating science and innovation and is a regular speaker in at Australian and International conferences and in the media. In 2013 Professor Kendall recorded a TedGlobal presentation which has been viewed close to one million times. He is the recipient of numerous awards. These include a 2015 World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer, a 2012 Rolex Laureate for pioneering efforts to expand knowledge and improve human life, the Australian Innovation Challenge overall winner (2011), the Eureka Prize for Interdisciplinary Research (2011) and Young Engineer of Britain (2004).
Research Impacts: Professor Kendall’s research and innovation impacts stems from him asking the question “how can we deliver a vaccine antigen most effectively to the skin antigen-presenting cell population?” He went about answering this question by conceiving the concept of a nanoneedle array, defining the parameters that would maximise its efficacy.
Since his joining UQ in 2006, Professor Kendall and his team invented the Nanopatches for uniquely exploiting the skin function for improved vaccines and disease diagnosis. His research is investigating the fundamentals of these interactions (eg mechanical, chemical and immunological) and achieving proof-of-concept in the mouse model of practical vaccine delivery, namely: demonstrating in animal models the Nanopatch achieves improved immunogenicity for all classes of vaccines – with an unprecendented 100 fold dose-sparing, compared to the needle and syringe (inﬂuenza vaccine).
Professor Kendall sourced $AUD15 million of venture capital based investment to develop the Nanopatch as a clinical device. Vaxxas is Australia’s largest ever Series A investment in Biotechnology (to date). As the key next step, he played a key role in Vaxxas securing an additional $AUD27 million of investment (Series B) in 2015.
As the Founder, Chief Technology Officer and a Director, he drove Vaxxas forward, building and leading a team of 25 people; concurrently with leading my University of Queensland research group of another 20 people. A key Vaxxas project is a joint partnership with Merck – one of the world’s largest vaccine manufacturers. Merck selected Vaxxas following an assessment period of three years, from 41 international technologies.