Monday, January 16th 2012
OXFORD, UK, 16th January 2012 – Oxitec Ltd, a company pioneering a new approach to combating the mosquitoes that spread 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.
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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.