Gust to reflect on biotech industry past

Ian David Gust is a Professorial Fellow in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Melbourne and will deliver the Millis Oration at the 17th International Biotechnology Symposium (IBS) 2016, to be hosted by AusBiotech.


When Professor Ian Gust decided to enter the field of virology some 50 years ago, the process of product development looked vastly different than it does today.

Prof Gust is just about the best person around to discuss the CSL success story. He was part of the team that helped transform the small, locally focused company with an estimated value of $25 million into a major publically listed company, which is now worth a staggering $40 billion.

The changing nature of the business is the theme of Prof Gust’s talk at this year’s International Biotechnology Symposium (IBS) 2016, to be hosted by AusBiotech. He will deliver the Millis Oration, focal point of the conference named in honour of Emeritus Professor Nancy Millis, a pioneer of Australia’s biotechnology industry.

His Oration will focus on why CSL was able to successfully make the transition to a publically listed company and maintain commercial viability while similar organisations were left by the wayside.

Although you will have to attend his Oration on 25 October 2016 to find out more, Prof Gust was able to give us insight into his reasoning.

 “Once it was released from the hands of government, CSL was able to control its investments and respond rapidly to new opportunities. Along with strategic thinking, CSL was able to recognise the importance of innovation and internationalisation.”

Prof Gust considers his Oration a retrospective lesson and when asked who would benefit from hearing him speak he laughed and said ‘everybody.’ But when prompted a little further, we found out that there really is something for everyone at his session.

“There are useful messages for people in science, academia and start-ups aspiring to make it internationally,” Prof Gust said.

His session is also worth attending simply because his contributions to his field (particularly in the prevention of hepatitis and AIDS) over the last five decades, which is why he was appointed an Office for the Order of Australia for service to public health in 1992. He has had a remarkable journey and is able to impart a lifetime of knowledge and experience, which would be particularly beneficial to those just starting their careers in science.

Prof Gust thinks the IBS is important because it is “an opportunity to learn from the best and to contact the best.” He also notes that it helps our local industry to benchmark itself, showing us what we excel in and also what we need work on to become world-class.

Regardless of our global standing, Prof Gust comments that “getting an event like this is a feather in our cap as it is a very competitive business and demonstrates the respect the world has for Australian science and Victorian science in particular.”

IBS 2016 will be held at the Melbourne Convention Centre from 24-27 October 2016. Early bird tickets available until July 15.Register or view the program

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