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Our vision: Ending viral disease

Kimer Med was founded by Phil Oliver and Rick Kiessig in 2020 while the world was in the grip of the Covid-19 pandemic. Both knew about Dr Todd Rider’s work on DRACO, published in 2010, and were surprised to find that it had not progressed further, in spite of its obvious potential.

With decades of scientific, entrepreneurial and complex project management experience between them, they founded Kimer Med to pursue the vision and promise of broad-spectrum antiviral technology. You can read more about Kimer Med’s founders, Advisory Board, and the rest of the team below.

Rick Kiessig, Kimer Med co-founder and CEO

Rick Kiessig

Co-Founder & CEO
Chief Science Officer (CSO)
As Kimer Med’s Chief Scientific Officer, Rick directly oversees the company’s research and development programme. This include the development of an early version of our antiviral protein that is effective against the Dengue virus in vitro, and numerous expression, stability and purification experiments. Alongside this, he manages the day-to-day operations of the company as CEO, based at our head office in Nelson.

Rick has a background in biology, organic chemistry, biochemistry, software, and rocket science. He owned and operated a multi-person consultancy in Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and is an experienced entrepreneur and project manager, having delivered dozens of projects on time and on budget to NASA, Lockheed-Martin, and other high-profile clients.

Rick has written software that’s flown to Mars three times and on several other near and deep space missions, published work in peer-reviewed journals in the fields of biochemistry and aerospace, and is the primary author of five patents.

Rick moved to New Zealand with his family in 2006. His hobbies include ham radio and asteroid tracking.

Phil Oliver

Chief Technology Officer
Phil is our CTO and manages all the software and IT-related aspects of the business. In addition he contributes to our experiment planning, performs in-depth literature searches and investigations.

As an experienced software engineer and entrepreneur, Phil brings to Kimer Med an extensive background  in science, IT and engineering. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Biomedical Engineering in 2012, and has previously worked for a Contract Research Organisation (CROs perform services such as managing clinical trials).

Phil’s four decades of engineering and research experience includes topics as  diverse as methods to improve production yields and lower the cost of medical radioisotopes, improving methods of acquiring, storing, and processing clinical trial data, and improving the stealthiness of gas turbine engines used in military applications. Other projects have successfully addressed widespread medical problems with the development, testing and application of new technology.

Phil has known about the enormous potential of DRACO (now VTose®) for some years and is happy to be working with Kimer Med to turn that potential into reality. He lives with his family in Arizona, USA.

Tanja Wiles, Kimer Med

Tanja Wiles

Biomedical Laboratory Technician
Tanja is responsible for the day-to-day functioning of Kimer Med’s office and laboratory spaces, maintaining equipment, supplies and health and safety protocols.

Tanja has a background in pharmaceutical and life sciences, with over 15 years of experience working in top level German research institutes like the University of Goettingen and the Max-Planck Institute for Multidisciplinary Sciences. Her work in Germany focused on engineering expression cassettes for use with recombinant viral vectors and in-vitro transcribed mRNA.

In 2018 she moved to Nelson where she worked at Cawthron Institute within the ecotoxicology group for 5 years, before moving to Kimer Med. Tanja is delighted to be part of Kimer Med and its initiative to develop broad spectrum antiviral therapeutics. Her role with Kimer Med brings her back to her passion for pharmaceutical and clinical sciences.

In her free time Tanja’s enjoys horse riding, writing music and spending time with her son.

Dr Rishi Pandey, Lead Scientist at Kimer Med

Dr Rishi Pandey

Lead Scientist
Rishi has a PhD. in biochemistry and a decade of experience in the biotechnology industry and crown research institutes. He has expertise in protein engineering, formulation development and analytical biochemistry, and a keen interest in finding a cure for infectious diseases like influenza, HIV and Hep B.  Rishi comes to us from the Institute of Environment Science and Research (ESR) Ltd., New Zealand, where he led multiple fast-track science projects and science strategy impact fund projects.

Rishi is responsible for the development of new drug candidates and works closely with the rest of the team to develop our product pipeline, address regulatory requirements, and roadmaps for product to market. His work has the potential to change the lives of millions of people around the world, and he is committed to making a positive impact on society through his research.

Hailing from the hills of the Himalayas in India, Rishi describes himself as an eternal optimist and believes that a positive outlook is important for good mental and physical wellbeing. In his free time, Rishi enjoys an active life that includes yoga, the gym, running and hiking.

Andy Clover, Strategic Communications at Kimer Med

Andy Clover

Communications & Funding Lead
Andy’s role is primarily to increase the company’s exposure and build awareness of the work we are doing. He is also tasked with finding sources of grant funding and investment.

Andy has worked as a designer, branding consultant and marketing strategist for more than 20 years. His communications and digital marketing experience covers a raft of sectors including museum and art galleries, avionics, public health, solar, fisheries, tech and craft brewing.

For some years Andy has been interested in innovation, particularly the role of quality design and branding in the trajectory of early stage startups. In 2020 he took advantage of the Covid lockdowns to gain his Postgraduate Diploma in Innovation & Design Thinking.

Andy holds a degree in Visual Art and Design and is actively involved in the art sector, as well as organising Pecha Kucha Nights in Nelson. His interests include politics, art and design, film, football, the cosmos, renovations, wood fired BBQ, live music and craft beer.

Dr Sasini Polwotta

Biomedical Scientist
Sasini is from Sri Lanka, a beautiful island country known as “the pearl of the Indian Ocean”.  She has passion for science and her long-term goal is to find a cure for cancer and viral disease.

Sasini completed her undergraduate studies in the UK at the University of East London where she specialised in medical microbiology. After finishing her studies, she came back to Sri Lanka where she worked as a high school science teacher and completed her post-graduate diploma in Experimental Biotechnology at the University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka.

In 2017 she moved to New Zealand to pursue her doctoral research in cancer genomics and pathology at the University of Otago. Her research at the University of Otago focused on the tumour suppressor gene p53 and its isoforms in pancreatic cancer and melanoma. Δ133p53, an isoform of p53 acts as an oncogene and patients with this isoform show increased cancer burden and enhanced drug resistance.

Sasini’s passion for medical research led her to join Kimer Med’s initiative towards developing broad spectrum antiviral therapeutics. Her knowledge in cell culture, in-vitro assay design and viability testing will be assist in Kimer Med’s efforts to create antiviral therapeutics to fight against the infectious disease burden in the world.

Dr Mauro Teixeira

Mauro obtained his PhD at the University of London and has worked in Brazil since 1997. He is a Professor of Immunology at the Department of Biochemistry and Immunology and Head of the Center for Advanced and Innovative Therapies at Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (UFMG), Brazil. He is a full member of the Brazilian Academy of Science, of the National Order of Scientific Merit and of The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS).

He is Past-president of the Brazilian Society of Pharmacology (SBFTE) and of the Brazilian Society of Inflammation (SBIN). Currently he is vice-president of International Association of Inflammation Societies (IAIS) and chair of the Immunotherapy Committee of the International Union of Immunological Societies (IUIS). He is member of the Medicines advisory board (CATEME) for Anvisa.

Mauro works in the field of inflammation with particular emphasis on the role of role of inflammation for disease and death following infection. He coordinates the National Institute of Science and Technology in Dengue and host-microbial interactions (INCT Dengue), and  is recognised as a world leader in Dengue research.

Eric Buenz

Dr Eric Buenz

Eric is a consultant who works at the intersection of global medicine and business. He has held leadership roles, such as Head of Medical Affairs and Chief Strategy Officer, at multiple organisations, where he has  overseen complex company-wide strategic planning efforts to support business operations and accelerate product growth for both Series-A funded startups and multinational medical corporations.

He also has extensive experience in clinical environments within neurology, immunology, haematology, oncology, gastroenterology, and infectious diseases. Eric has managed a globally distributed team of 12 medical affairs professionals, and developed and directed clinical trials (Phase I – Phase IV).  He has successfully secured US FDA Investigational New Drug (IND) status for novel compounds and directed the associated clinical trials for these compounds at Mayo Clinic.

Eric is published in numerous world-renowned journals including Nature, The British Medical Journal, The Lancet, and The American Journal of Medicine, and his work has been covered in The New York Times, The Economist, Wired, and The Scientist.

Dr Brian Russell

Brian has three decades of experience in global technology commercialisation and venture financing, with 16 years based in Europe and America. He was the founder and CEO of the venture backed company Zephyr Technology Corp (acquired by Medtronic), a global leader in wearable sensors. His experience includes technology, artificial intelligence, strategy, venture capital, strategic financing and strategic relationships with organisations such as Under Armour, 3M, Motorola, NASA and US Defense Department. Brian is subject matter expert in artificial intelligence, technology strategy and medTech.

Brian has a PhD in Artificial Intelligence investigating cognitive and physical fatigue in exploration environments from Auckland University of Technology and graduated from University of Auckland with a Bachelor of Electrical and Electronic Engineering. He holds patents in optics, silicon chips, wearable sensor algorithms and wireless solutions.

He has testified to the US Congress on behalf of NASA, advised Department of Homeland Security on physiological monitoring, and is a member of the Medical and Military Board of Advisors for NCSU Nanotech Institute, an independent board member of Return on Science (University of Auckland), a PhD supervision and a mentor for tech founders.

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