Oxitec Appoints Dr Christopher Richards as Chairman
OXFORD, England, February 13, 2012 /PRNewswire/ –
Oxitec Ltd, a company pioneering a new approach to combating dengue fever, announced
today that it has appointed Dr Christopher Richards as Non-Executive Chairman, with effect
from 1st January 2012. Oxitec use advanced genetics to create ‘sterile’ male insects of
the target species. The company has demonstrated success in trials in a number of
countries and is developing a range of products both in public health and agriculture.
Chris has more than 25 years’ experience in the agriculture and public health fields.
In 20 years with ICI, Zeneca and Syngenta, he has gained wide experience in technical and
commercial areas, including in ICI Public Health and general management roles in South
America and Asia. In 2003, he was appointed CEO of Arysta LifeScience, the Tokyo-based
international agrochemical company, and was responsible for transforming the company into
a powerful global force in the sector. Chris was appointed Chairman of Arysta LifeScience
in 2010. Prior to joining the private sector in 1983, he worked in research with the UK
Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. Chris earned a master’s degree in zoology and
a D. Phil. in animal ecology at St. John’s College, Oxford University.
In joining Oxitec, Chris commented: ‘Oxitec is a remarkable company at a very exciting
stage in its development. I have been enormously impressed not only by the quality of the
science but also by the responsible attitude to society and the environment. Oxitec is a
company with the ambition to make a truly beneficial impact on public health around the
world, using cutting edge science to present novel and cost-effective ways of controlling
dengue fever, which affects so many people, especially in poorer tropical countries. I am
proud to be joining this world class team.’
David Brooks, who has been Chairman of Oxitec since its foundation in 2002, commented
“I am delighted that we have been able to attract Chris to take on this role at this
important stage in Oxitec’s evolution. A very solid platform has been established, and
Chris’s experience in building successful international companies will be invaluable in
leading Oxitec to the commercial success which it is now positioned to achieve”.
Oxitec has developed an innovative technology, employing advances in genetics and
molecular biology, to improve on the well-established radiation-based Sterile Insect
Technique (SIT). SIT is used to control insect pests that damage crops. Oxitec’s
technology extends the principle of using sterility to suppress insect populations to a
far broader range of insect species that threaten both public health and agriculture and
also overcomes cost efficacy hurdles. After many years in development Oxitec is
demonstrating its approach to combat the insect that spreads dengue fever in an increasing
number of countries.
Oxitec is developing and commercialising an effective and environment-friendly
proprietary technology for the control of significant insect pests. Oxitec’s technology
has the potential to make a major contribution for both global health and agriculture by
combating insects responsible for serious diseases such as dengue fever as well as
agricultural damage. The proprietary technology builds on inventions from the University
of Oxford and employs genetics and molecular biology to enhance the cost-effectiveness and
safety of the existing Sterile Insect Technique (SIT), and to extend SIT to a broader
range of insect pests.
Dengue is the most common mosquito-borne viral disease of humans that in recent years
has become a major international public health concern. Globally, 2.5 billion people live
in areas where dengue viruses can be transmitted. The geographical spread of the mosquito
vector Aedes aegypti has led to the global resurgence of epidemic dengue fever in the past
25 years and an increase in the more severe forms of the disease such as dengue
haemorrhagic fever and dengue shock syndrome. There is neither medication nor vaccine
currently available for dengue.