TRI Auditorium

Effica Biolabs: Accelerating the development of type 1 diabetes therapies

A Research Translation Committee Seminar

Date: Tuesday 7 June 2022
Time: 1:00pm - 2:00pm
Location: TRI Auditorium or via Zoom ( - Passcode: RTS2022)

Join with the Research Translation Committee as we hear how St Vincent’s Institute’s Professor Helen Thomas was able to turn her research models into a commercial operation. With support from Dougal Edwards at Bright Arena (who also works with TRI researchers), Prof Thomas formed Effica Biolabs.

Effica Biolabs is a contract research organisation offering bespoke preclinical services. It tests the therapeutic potential of drugs and devices for a range of immune-related diseases to help establish the smoothest path to clinic. The group works with clients to develop and implement testing approaches that integrate animal disease models and human tissue assays. It can apply its animal models and standardised assays for human peripheral blood analysis, pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics.


Professor Helen Thomas
Head, Immunology and Diabetes Unit, St Vincent's Institute, Melbourne

Professor Helen Thomas is head of the Immunology and Diabetes Unit at St Vincent’s Institute in Melbourne. Her research is focused on prevention of type 1 diabetes. She aims to protect the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas from being destroyed by both the immune system and the stress that diabetes places on these cells. Her work is being applied to humans through the transplantation of islets isolated from organ donors by the Tom Mandel Islet Transplant Program in Victoria to reverse type 1 diabetes in severe cases. She has also developed collaborations with industry to test immune suppressive drugs, in particular JAK inhibitors, in clinical trials for type 1 diabetes.


Dougal Edwards
CEO, Bright Arena

Dougal Edwards is the CEO of Bright Arena, which partners with research, industry and enterprise to rapidly accelerate new business growth using startup methods. He’s launched, built and sold startups; worked with over 2,000 startups internationally; created breakthrough solutions for global leaders in media, finance and tech. Passionate about the conscious application of technology, he also advises leaders on emerging technology and its implications for business and society.