Diagnostics

Development of high performance Affimer®-based diagnostics to improve health outcomes.

Avacta aims to become the leading provider of innovative, next generation diagnostic solutions, and the first choice for disruptive immunodiagnostic products.

Our diagnostics division is utilising our proprietary Affimer® platform to develop AffiDX® in vitro diagnostic (IVD) tests, starting with the AffiDX® SARS-CoV-2 Antigen Lateral Flow Test.

We have also established commercial relationships with IVD companies worldwide to improve the clinical utility of diagnostic testing solutions, by combining bespoke Affimer® reagents with leading diagnostic platform technologies.

Meet the team

Diagnostics leadership team
Alastair Smith

Alastair Smith

Chief Executive Officer
Biography

TMAC Programme Accelerates: Clinical Trial Planned for Early 2020

Alastair is Chief Executive of Avacta Group plc.

He has been responsible for the management and strategic development of the company and has led the public and private M&A activities of the Group since the IPO on AIM which was completed via a reverse merger in 2006. Alastair is a respected and trusted executive with many years experience of investor relations in the UK, Europe and US and has successfully delivered multiple follow-on fundraisings for the Group totalling over £120m.

Avacta Group is developing next generation oncology drugs based on its proprietary Affimer® and preCISIONTM platforms through its clinical stage Therapeutics Division based in Cambridge, UK. Its Diagnostics Division, based in Wetherby, UK, is developing a pipeline of diagnostic immunoassays utilising Affimer® reagents and works with partners world-wide to develop Affimer-powered products. The Group has around one hundred employees across its two sites and a business development team in the US.

He has a degree and PhD in Physics from Manchester University and, following a period of working in the US, took up a position at Leeds University in 1995. At the age of 38 he was awarded a Chair of Molecular Biophysics and had, over ten years, grew one of the leading biophysics research groups in Europe before he left his academic career in 2007 to focus full time on delivering value to Avacta shareholders.

David Wilson

David Wilson

Commercial Director, Diagnostics
Biography

David brings to Avacta over 25 years international experience in business development, marketing and sales management in the in-vitro diagnostic medical devices industry, having held senior commercial and Board level positions in global corporations, angel and venture capital funded start-ups and a sector specific trade association. Following a 12 year period at Genzyme Corporation where David led the international sales, marketing and business development functions for the Diagnostics Products division, he joined US/Israeli start-up Molecular Detection as Vice President Commercial Operations to lead the commercial development of a molecular diagnostics technology platform applied to the rapid, accurate detection of antibiotic resistant bacteria. Building on his experience supporting the development of early stage businesses and technologies in the in-vitro diagnostics sector, David joined London/Boston-based specialist life sciences consulting firm Alacrita and led the development of their diagnostics consulting practice, providing both strategic and operational support to early-stage diagnostics companies entering new markets. More recently, as Head of International Sales for US-based Asuragen Inc., David led a team developing and delivering the international commercial strategy for a specialised genetic and oncology molecular diagnostic product portfolio. He is currently a Board member for two early-stage diagnostic businesses developing novel point of care diagnostic testing platforms, and has served on the Executive Committee of the British In Vitro Diagnostics Association (BIVDA). David has a BSc (Hons) in Biochemistry and Microbiology from the University of St. Andrews and a MBA from the Open University Business School.

Matt Johnson

Matt Johnson

Chief Scientific Officer, Diagnostics
Biography

Matt studied Genetics & Microbiology at the University of Sheffield and stayed on to complete a PhD in Molecular Biology with Dr Anne Moir investigating novel surface proteins of the B. cereus endospore. As part of his PhD, he completed an EMBO short-term fellowship at the Pasteur Institute in Paris with Dr Michele Mock looking at the same proteins in B. anthracis, the causative agent of anthrax. After completing his PhD, Matt took a Postdoctoral position in the Department of Biochemistry at Cambridge University with Professor George Salmond. The focus of the project was characterising a novel toxin-antitoxin phage resistance mechanism discovered on a cryptic plasmid in E. carotavora.

Matt joined Abcam in 2005 as a development scientist producing and characterising antibodies. His career at Abcam developed as the company grew to become the leading provider of research-grade antibodies in the life sciences market. He held several roles over his 8 years in the company, culminating in the post of Head of R&D.

His experience at Abcam includes building an imaging team for ICC and IHC, being responsible for managing the antibody characterisation group, running a team responsible for process improvements and QA, project managing a team of developers implementing a new LIMS system and management team of the Product Development & Manufacturing facility.

As Head of R&D, he built and ran a research group with interests in recombinant antibody/binder technologies, alternative detection methodologies, immunoassay development and antibody characterisation. His other responsibilities included contributing to M&A strategy, licensing deals and technology scouting. To support this, he completed a Postgraduate Certificate in Intellectual Property Law at the University of Bournemouth in 2012.

Mary Bronserud

Mary Bronserud

Operations Director
Biography

Mary has over 20 years’ experience in senior leadership positions within FMCG. Mary joined in 2018, from a global management consultancy that specialised in organisation design, enabling companies to realise their potential. Mary has a wealth of experience in sales, marketing and supply chain/logistics which provide a strong operational, commercial and strategic perspective.

Marc Green

Marc Green

Head of Product Development, Diagnostics
Biography

Marc has over 25 years’ experience in the commercial in vitro diagnostics sector, with extensive involvement in both product development, taking products from concept to launch under CE and FDA Regulatory frameworks, and in commercial roles.

Starting his career at Axis-Shield as part of the R&D team responsible for developing immunoassays for Axis-Shield’s own cardiovascular and autoimmune assay range, then later developing assays on to a number of automated analysers as part of OEM partnerships with major diagnostics companies. One of these OEM projects required Marc move to Oslo, where he lived and worked for a number of years before returning to the UK.

Following Axis-Shield, Marc took a position as R&D Manager for a Porton Down based start-up, Acolyte Biomedica, utilising the company’s proprietary adenylate kinase technology to develop a product pipeline for in infectious diseases detection, antibiotic resistance and transfusion product contamination. Acolyte Biomedica were acquired by 3M.

Marc worked for Atlas Genetics (now Binx Health) for 12 years, initially as Product Development Manager with responsibility for the development of Atlas’ io® point-of-care, sample-to-result, nucleic acid amplification platform for the detection of sexually transmitted infections, comprising a custom-built instrument and test-specific microfluidic cartridges. He then transitioning in to commercial roles for the company becoming Product Manager and then Head of Marketing at Atlas Genetics.

More recently, prior to joining Avacta, Marc worked as a successful freelance consultant for several years, providing input in both product development and marketing capacities to a range of different IVD companies, including Avacta. Marc formally joined the Avacta team as Head of Product Development for the diagnostics division in August 2020.

Marc has a BSc in Microbiology from the University of Leeds, an MSc in Computer Science from Sheffield Hallam University and an MBA from Bournemouth University.

Gemma Wilson

Gemma Wilson

Head of QA/RA
Biography
Diagnostics commercial team
Chris Miller

Chris Miller

Director, Business Development for North America
Biography

Chris originally joined Avacta Analytical as European Business Development Manager for services in September 2011, then was promoted to Commercial Manager – responsible for all services-related sales and operations. He has since moved to Avacta Life Sciences where he has responsibility for business development on the west coast of the US (he is based in San Diego, CA).

After studying Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Strathclyde, Chris began his career as a production manager at Motorola before deciding to further his scientific training. He returned to the University of Strathclyde and completed an MRes in Biomedical Analysis, successfully combining his scientific training and management experience as a Bioanalytical Study Director at Tepnel Pharma Services (now Hologic GenProbe) for 3 years before leaving to pursue a career in business development.

Prior to joining Avacta, Chris sold functional pharmacology and human tissue research models worldwide for Biopta, the foremost company in the field.

Fran Mullen

Fran Mullen

Senior Manager, Business Development for North America
Biography

Fran is responsible for business development for Avacta Life Sciences on the East Coast of the US. Prior to joining Avacta, she was a key account manager for Abcam, supporting pharmaceutical and biotech companies with a portfolio of antibodies, assays and proteins. Before this, she sold custom peptide synthesis services in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast regions of the US for CPC Scientific and AnaSpec, Eurogentec Group. Fran has a BSc in Biochemistry from Towson University in Maryland.

Rob Ford

Rob Ford

Business Development Executive, EMEA
Biography

Rob is responsible for Business Development for Avacta Life Sciences (Diagnostics) in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA). Rob was previously a Senior Scientist and worked in the Assays team for 7 years, so brings with him his extensive technical expertise working using Affimer® reagents first-hand. Rob has a Biochemistry and Molecular Biology BSc, Chemical Biology MSc and a PhD investigating the roles of RNA in the assembly and disassembly of single-stranded, positive sense, icosahedral viruses.

Joanne Soundy

Joanne Soundy

Commercial Marketing Manager, Diagnostics
Biography

With over 15 years’ experience, Joanne has a strong marketing and commercial background across the pharmaceutical, biotech and veterinary industry. Since graduating from the University of York with a BSc (Hons) in Psychology, she has developed a wealth of product and service marketing experience. Joanne joined Avacta in 2011 and has worked in both the Animal Health and Analytical division, before taking on this role to manage all aspects of product marketing within the Diagnostics division of Avacta Life Sciences.

Petros Sarantos

Petros Sarantos

Head of Product Management, Diagnostics
Biography

Petros joins Avacta with over 15 years’ experience in global marketing and product management within the in-vitro diagnostics industry.  He brings significant insight into strategic marketing, product lifecycle management and development of international partnerships, gained through his experience at leading IVD companies such as Bio-Rad, DiaSorin, and most recently, Erba Mannheim.

Petros holds an MSc in Medical Genetics from the University of Glasgow and rounded off his academic studies in France with a DESS in Administration of Bio-industries, following a 2-year return to his home country of Greece to fulfil his national military service.

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