Victorian Biotechnology Advisory Council (VBAC)

The Victorian Biotechnology Advisory Council has been established to assist the government in providing a far-sighted and coordinated approach to the development of the Victorian biotechnology industry.

The Council provides advice to the Minister for Technology and the Department on how persistent market failures can be overcome and opportunities leveraged to support the growth of a dynamic and vibrant biotechnology sector in Victoria.

Chair: Professor Ian Gust AO

Professor Gust has had a long and distinguished career in medical research, receiving wide international recognition for contributions to the field of virology. He is a current and past Board Member of several Victorian and US based biotechnology companies and medical research institutes, as well as a number of high profile international public health initiatives, including the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative. He is currently chair of the Bio21 Cluster and has held previous roles as Founder and Director of the Burnet Institute in the 1980s, and Director of Research and Development at CSL during the 1990s. Professor Gust was awarded an Officer of the Order of Australia in 1992.

The Council's advice will assist in the implementation of Victoria's Technology Plan for the Future – Biotechnology.

Victorian Biotechnology Advisory Council members

Name Organisation
Michelle Burke Director of External Affairs at Bristol-Myers Squibb (Australia) Pty Ltd
Dr Leigh Farrell Chief Operating Officer at d3 Medicine
Dr Simon Green  Senior Vice President, Global R&D Product Development, at CSL
Robert Klupacs Executive Director at Ceres Oncology Pty Ltd
Peter Lewis General Manager Business Development at Hydrix
Sue MacLeman Senior Vice President at Mesoblast
Dr Ian Nisbet Co-Founder and Partner of Afandin
Dr Paul Savage Theme Leader, Australian Biotechnology Growth Partnerships at CSIRO Molecular & Health Tech / Materials Science and Engineering
Prof Richard Strugnell Pro Vice-Chancellor (Graduate Research) and Professor of Microbiology at The University of Melbourne
Dr Richard Treagus Executive Chairman at Neuren Pharmaceuticals Limited
Prof Andrew Wilks co-founder and Chairman of SYN|thesis Med Chem and Qubist Molecular Design
Dr Krystal Evans Chief Executive Officer of the BioMelbourne Network, the peak industry forum for the leaders of the Victorian biotechnology industry
Dr Anna Lavelle Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director of AusBiotech Ltd, the peak industry body for biotechnology in Australia

Terms of reference 


The Council will:

  • be composed of up to 15 members representing a range of stakeholders from industry
  • meet 2-3 times a year
  • provide advice to the government on issues related to biotechnology and the implementation of Victoria's Technology Plan for the Future - Biotechnology
  • operate until 30 June 2015.

The Secretariat function for the Council will be coordinated by the Department.


  1. The Council will provide advice to government on opportunities to:
    • increase exports into key markets such as the US, Europe and new markets such as China and South East Asia
    • enhance Victorian Brand awareness
    • promote Victorian biotechnology capability internationally to attract and increase exports.
  2. The Council will provide advice to government on regulatory reform to ensure a globally competitive environment for biotechnology in Victoria.
  3. The Council will provide a sounding board for the government's life sciences industry initiatives and support the implementation of the government's industry policy.


The Council will be composed of targeted membership representatives of the Victorian life sciences industry and related service providers weighted towards those with experience in international markets. Council membership will collectively possess a thorough understanding of a wide range of issues relevant to the sector, including issues specific to:

  • Industry sub-sectors
    • Discovery and development of drugs
    • Medical devices, including diagnostics
    • Pharmaceuticals and biopharmaceuticals
  • Particular types of organisations
    • Small, medium, and large biotechnology companies
    • Domestic, foreign, and multinational companies operating in Victoria
    • Companies that export
    • Companies providing supporting services, such as clinical trials providers
  • Underpinning of the life sciences industry value chain (from research to development, commercialisation, production, and marketing) including
    • Deal-making (such as licensing agreements, mergers and acquisitions)
    • Management of intellectual property
    • Investment capital
    • International partnerships
    • Regulatory issues in different jurisdictions and in the drugs, diagnostics, and agricultural biotechnology sectors
    • Reimbursement (i.e. the rates at which governments decide to pay companies for their medical products).


Members of the Council will be appointed by the Minister. The Chair of the Council will have superior knowledge of the Victorian and Australian life sciences sectors, and have the skills and zeal to ensure that the Council's activities further the government's vision for biotechnology.

The Chair and members will be appointed until 30 June 2015. If any member is unable to continue in their role on the Council, the Minister may appoint a replacement. Members are expected to attend at least three meetings over their term and to make significant contributions to the activities of the Council.

All appointments over the term will be made with a view to maintaining the broad and balanced representation outlined above, taking into account any emerging issues relevant to the Victorian biotechnology sector.

Members will participate on a voluntary basis but will be reimbursed, in accordance with Departmental Policies, for approved out-of-pocket expenses incurred in the course of their Council duties. This is in accordance with Victorian Government guidelines: Department of Premier and Cabinet, 2010, Appointment and remuneration guidelines for Victorian Government Boards Statutory Bodies and Advisory Committees (Updated July 2010). More information can be found at the Public Board Appointments Victoria website.


The Council will report directly to the Minister after each meeting with the assistance of its Departmental Secretariat. The Department will disseminate relevant outcomes from Council to other stakeholders.

Any proposals with significant overarching policy or funding implications will be sent to the Minister for consideration, and consultation with other Ministers, as appropriate.


Enquiries by email to