Who & where

“It’s about turning vision into reality.”

Commercialising ground-breaking research

Our background: Christchurch Heart Institute Upstream Medical Technologies will commercialise a suite of novel biomarkers for cardiac disease diagnosis. These biomarkers were developed at the Christchurch Heart Institute (CHI), a University of Otago Centre of Research Excellence, in Christchurch, New Zealand. Researchers at the CHI were the first in the world to discover fragments of proteins called signal peptides in the blood. (Siriwardena, M (2010) Circulation 122; 255).This discovery has lead to a novel class of biomarkers that can be used in diagnosis of various cardiovascular diseases and clinically associated diseases.

From New Zealand to the world

The discoverers filed their first patent in 2007 and are working closely with us to build a sustainable New Zealand-based company around the diagnostics platform that uses their patented technology.

A highly respected team

The CHI is led by Professor Mark Richards who holds the Heart Foundation of New Zealand’s Chair in Cardiovascular Studies. The Translational Biodiscovery Laboratory within the CHI is led by Associate Professor Chris Pemberton. The researchers have an established publication record in this field spanning over 10 years.

Our Team

Assoc Prof Chris Pemberton

Assoc Prof Chris Pemberton
Founder & CSO

QUALIFICATIONS:
M.Sc (Hons), PhD

Assoc. Prof Pemberton has 18 years experience in the discovery and validation of circulating protein markers. He is also a senior member of the Christchurch Heart Institute, New Zealand’s premier cardiovascular research group.

Colin Dawson

Colin Dawson
Executive Chairman

Colin has a strong background in life sciences. And he was a founding partner of health consulting and investment banking firm Medicus Capital and the inaugural CEO of Otago Innovation.

Dr Roland Toder

Dr Roland Toder
Executive Director

QUALIFICATIONS:
B.Sc (Hons), PhD, Habilitation (human genetics & anthropology).

Roland has strong technological expertise and broad executive management experience. Roland is Executive Director of Akalpa, Lifescience Consulting Limited, New Zealand and Partner at Life Science Consult, Management Consulting, Germany.

David Christensen

David Christensen
Director

David leads the operational team of commercialisation managers at Otago Innovation, the commercialisation vehicle for the University of Otago, New Zealand.

Dr Gary Pace

Dr Gary Pace
Director

QUALIFICATIONS:
PhD

Dr. Gary Pace is an experienced serial entrepreneur of small to large-scale life sciences ventures in the USA, New Zealand and Australia. He has more than 40 years of experience in the development and commercialization of advanced technologies including in the biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, medical devices and food industries.
Dr Pace currently serves as a Director of Pacira Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ: PCRX), Simavita Ltd (ASX: SVA), Antisense Therapeutics (ASX: ANP) and Invitrocue (ASX: IVQ) and several private companies. In New Zealand he is a Chairman of Pacific Channel, a life sciences investment and management firm. He has also previously served as a director of two New Zealand biotech companies that have since been acquired; Somnaceutics and Engender Technologies. Dr Pace also served as a director of ResMed Inc (NYSE: RMD) from 1994 until 2018.
Dr. Pace is an elected Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering. In 2003 he was awarded a Centenary Medal by the Australian Government “for service to Australian society in research and development” and in was named 2011 Director of the Year (corporate governance) by the San Diego Directors Forum.

Kieran Jina

Kieran Jina
CEO

QUALIFICATIONS:
MSc (Hons), MBioEnt (Hons)

Mr Jina serves as CEO of Upstream. He was Chief Operating Officer of Engender Technologies, a New Zealand biotechnology company, which was strategically acquired by a large global corporate in late 2018. Mr Jina served for over 4 years as a senior associate at life-sciences management and investment firm, Pacific Channel where he was responsible for forming, managing and funding early stage biotechnologies companies.

Prof. Judith Swain

Prof. Judith Swain
Director

QUALIFICATIONS:
M.D.

Prof. Swain previously served as Chair of the Department of Medicine at Stanford University and Director of Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. She is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine (USA) and the previous President of both the Association of American Professors and the American Society for Clinical Investigation. Prof. Swain brings to Upstream extensive networks with the clinical, scientific and investment communities.

Prof. Tony DeMaria

Prof. Tony DeMaria
Chairman of Scientific Advisory Board

QUALIFICATIONS:
M.D.

Professor Anthony DeMaria is the Chair of Upstream’s scientific advisory board. Prof. DeMaria served 12 years as editor-in-chief of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC). He also served as the President of the American College of Cardiology and as the President of the American Society of Echocardiography. He is currently Director of Cardiovascular Center at University of California San Diego Medical Center. Prof. DeMaria was a Director of Biosite, which commercialized BNP to become the gold standard marker of heart failure. Biosite was acquired by Alere for USD1.7B. BNP was identified by the Christchurch Heart Institute, the same institute that identified Upstream’s cardiac biomarkers.