Professor, the University of Otago, Co-director, Genomics Aotearoa
Acting Director, RNA Platform
Professor Kjesten Wiig’s career has spanned senior leadership roles in academia, industry, and government, all with a focus on advancing science and innovation. After receiving her PhD from the University of Otago, and completing post-doctoral training at Brown University, Kjesten spent many years working in the competitive drug-discovery industry in the USA and was involved in the spin-out and start-up of two companies from Brown University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
At both companies, Kjesten served as Director of Neuropharmacology and was responsible for pre-clinical development of all programmes, including stroke, mild cognitive impairment, Fragile X, schizophrenia, Huntington’s Disease, and obesity. Kjesten then brought her experience in commercialising science to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment in New Zealand. At MBIE, Kjesten worked as National Manager for Commercialisation where she was responsible for a $15M portfolio of Government investments, as well as securing high-level support for commercialisation and an increase to the Pre-Seed Accelerator Fund. She then served as Director of Innovative Partnerships, a programme she created and grew to enable international companies to establish an R&D presence in New Zealand.
She is now working as Director of Strategic Partnerships at the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research. She is also Executive Director of the Vaccine Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand, and Interim Director of New Zealand’s RNA Technology Development Platform. Kjesten was adjunct Professor at Brown University in the USA and is currently adjunct Professor at the Ferrier Institute.