My adventures at UQ from rockets to Nanopatches, and beyond

Thu 15 Mar 2018 3:30pm

Professor Mark Kendall

Senior Group Leader, The Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN) The University of Queensland



I will summarise my adventures at UQ: first as an Undergraduate Engineer, followed by a PhD in Hypervelocity Aerodynamics – and then eight years at The University of Oxford – and then 12 years as a Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the AIBN.

I will focus on my research and innovations in replacing the needle and syringe and helping tackle global health vaccination challenges.

After outlining the challenges of the needle and syringe, I will briefly discuss the idea of hand-held rockets to fire micro-particulate vaccines into the skin – otherwise called the “gene gun” which took me from the field of hypervelocity aerodynamics to drug and vaccine delivery at Oxford.

Then, with the spotlight on the AIBN, I will then introduce the Nanopatch – conceived to tackle all three of the needle-based problems (and fresh challenges of the “gene gun”) – a patch bearing an ultra-high density array of projections that delivers dry-coated vaccine into the skin's outer layers; abundant with immune cells. In addition, I will outline the Nanopatch journey from idea towards clinical utility as a medical device product.


 I am an internationally-recognised 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.

This has culminated from more than 20 years of experience researching, developing and innovating, authoring more than 200 refereed publications, and being an inventor on more than 130 patents (of which more than 70 have been granted so far). Over that time, I have worked closely with industrial partners in the technology transfer from concept to commercialisation.

While at the University of Oxford, I contributed as an inventor into the biolistics technology, which was commercialised with PowderMed (the technology transfer company) purchased by Pfizer for $400 million in 2006.

And in 2011, I founded Vaxxas to commercialise the Nanopatch with $15 million investment, followed by $25 million in 2015, to clinically advance the Nanopatch as a product. The Nanopatch technology has been licensed to US based pharmaceutical company Merck and Co.

In recognition of my innovation and translation, I have received numerous awards. These include: the 2016 CSL Young Florey Medal, a 2015 World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer, a 2012 Rolex Laureate, The Australian Innovation Challenge winner (2011), the Eureka Prize for Interdisciplinary Research (2011) and Younger Engineer of Britain (2004).

My work has featured in many media outlets, including: TEDGlobal, WIRED, ABC, BBC, NBC, National Geographic, New Scientist and Popular Science.

In 2006 I joined The University of Queensland for a Professorial position after 8 years as a Lecturer at the University of Oxford. Shortly, I will commence as a Vice Chancellor’s Entrepreneurial Professor at the Australian National University.