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Maxwell Gilbert Shepherd
For services to biotechnology and business
Dr Max Shepherd is an award-winning biotechnologist who has played a leading role in the emergence and success of the New Zealand biotechnology industry.
The 78-year-old was the first Professor of Oral Biology at the University of Otago and held that position from 1981 to 1994.
Dr Shepherd’s pioneering research in the biology and molecular genetics of the human pathogen Candida albicans put New Zealand at the forefront of this research internationally, and the laboratory he established continues to be a leader in this field today.
Dr Shepherd is widely published, specialising in the medical mycology field.
In the mid-1990s, he was instrumental in the practical application and commercial funding of science in New Zealand, predominantly through the establishment of a variety of start-up enterprises focused on commercialisation of scientific research, such as Zentech, PharmaZen, a2 Milk, Biocell Corporation and Blis Technologies.
His commercialisation model is now widely adopted by start-ups in the industry.
His inventive problem-solving has contributed to products and projects benefiting diverse areas of New Zealand resources, including rabbit virus management in Central Otago and natural botrytis solutions for the wine industry.
Dr Shepherd was appointed to the Government’s Biotechnology Taskforce in 2003 and was a member of the National Research Advisory Council.
He was a founding committee member from 2012 of the Wanaka branch of the Royal Society of New Zealand and was chairman from 2015 to 2017.
In 1990, he was awarded the Commemoration Medal, and the New Zealand Biotechnology Prize in 2002.
He said he felt ‘‘very humbled and privileged’’ to be recognised by this award and it ranked alongside being recognised as a fellow and a member of the Royal Society.