University of Sydney science graduate and entrepreneur Adjunct Professor Alison Todd has worked with her SpeeDx co-founder Dr Elisa Mokany for almost two decades.
Todd and Mokany started out as colleagues at Johnson & Johnson as well as supervisor and PhD student at UNSW. With 120 patents to her name and 40 pending, Todd is primarily an inventor, but she says their skillsets overlap.
Together, they invented and patented the PlexZyme platform technology for genetic analysis. When Johnson & Johnson fell prey to the global financial crisis, Todd and Mokany negotiated the assignment of their technology and founded SpeeDx to take it to market. This year, the pair’s groundbreaking medical diagnostic technology earned them the Clunies Ross Award for Innovation.
PlexZyme drives the diagnostic tests developed by SpeeDx that detect both the organism causing an infection and its antibiotic resistance status, allowing doctors to tailor treatment to each patient. In a study of sexually transmitted infections caused by Mycoplasma genitalium, using SpeeDx diagnostics to guide treatment increased cure rates from 40% to 93%.
Both founders are actively involved in the Australian university community, mentoring the next generation of scientists and entrepreneurs. Over 20 years, Todd has supervised many higher degree students, delivering research for SpeeDx while giving the students a grounding in both industry and academia. “It’s very hard to get any basic research done in a busy company that is pumping out products,” Todd says.
Adjunct Prof Alison Todd – Bachelor of Science (Hons) & PhD, University of Sydney. Founder & Chief Scientific Officer, SpeeDx
Dr Elisa Mokany. Bachelor of Advanced Science & PhD, UNSW. Founder & Chief Technical Officer, SpeeDx