Inspirational Leader : Dr Una Ryan

So here it is. My first article about a person. A talented scientist in the field of biotechnology. A leading figure only to make the world a better place to live for future generation. A woman with a heart of gold. I present to you. Dr Una Ryan.


Her Humble Beginning


Dr Ryan was born in Kuala Lumpur, 1941. She was the daughter of an English rubber tree planter in Malaysia. Dr Ryan was born in troubled times especially when the Japanese forces invaded the then British colony. Once the Japanese forces landed on both Singapore and Malay peninsula (now Malaysia), Dr Ryan and her family were forced to flee on the last boat out of Singapore leaving her father who was taken by the Japanese. Her family, at the end, was finally reunited with the father after five years held captive.

From such a turbulent life, she grew to become the leading figure in the biotechnology field. She was always inspired by her grandfather, who was a Colonel in the British Army. Her grandfather would carry smallpox vaccines into the far reaches of Himalayas back then.

She was then, further inspired by watching a film about a small child with leprosy, which would serve as an inspiration of her work on the development of life-saving vaccines.


Her Education


Dr Ryan was invited to study zoology at the University of Bristol, where she graduated in 1963. 4 Years later, she completed her PhD at University of Cambridge. She, then, took up an appointment as an investigator at University of Miami. Her research there was subsequently awarded the prestigious National Institutes of Health 10-year merit award.




In 1990, Dr Ryan began her distinguished career by taking up the joint positions as Professor of Surgery at Washington University School of Medicine and as the Director of Health Sciences at Monsanto.

Four years later, she joined the T-Cell Sciences, a Cambridge and Massachusetts company, focused on the development of immunotherapeutic drugs.

T-Cell Sciences was later reformed as AVANT Immunotherapeutics where Dr Ryan served as CEO, president and director between 1996 and 2008, raising along with it $135 million in capital.


Highly-Noted Achievements


Dr Una Ryan’s success does not end there. She strive further getting herself involved in the development of a vaccine against rotavirus, which is the common factor of diarrhea and dehydration in infants and young children. Her successful development of the vaccine demonstrated 85% protection against rotavirus, given to 20,000 children in Latin America.

In 2010, Dr Una became the CEO of Diagnostics For All (DFA). DFA develops very cheap health tests, printed on papers, thus easily to be disposed of. The patterned paper DFA is preparing to distribute is somewhat similar to pregnancy and blood sugar tests.

The small pieces of paper of are etched with a number of channels, each with its own disease-detecting agents. Anyone can self-administer the test by applying blood or other body fluid, then observe the color-coded results. Its that simple.


Dr Una Ryan is not a stranger to receiving honours. She received the OBE for her services to research, development and biotech. In 2007, she was also the recipient of the prestigious Albert Einstein award for the development of new vaccines for serious global diseases.

Saving people’s lives has always been Dr Ryan’s passion and mission. She truly is a remarkable woman who works very hard to achieve that. Dr Ryan would appear to have not fail to impress us with her fight to make this world a better place. My best wish and regards on her future undertakings.