Recognising the contribution of Dr John Holaday

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It was with sadness that AusBitoech acknowledges the passing of Dr John Holaday (1945-2019). During his time in Australia, John was an active AusBiotech member who regularly spoke at its conferences and was featured in its journal. His contribution to the global and Australian biotech scene is respected, and he will be missed.

Last week, in North Carolina, USA, John was the victim of a random shooting – an innocent bystander, he was shot as he was walking to a business meeting. John was taken to a hospital with serious injuries and died days later.

John was a serial entrepreneur in life sciences, raising over $500m in private and public rounds of financing. Most recently he was the chairman, founder and CEO of DisposeRx, which is dedicated to eradicating the misuse of leftover opiod medication through disposal in a safe manner. He was also Chairman of Baltimore-based start-up Aireon Therapeutics, President of Exosis: a start up developing a novel, personalized cancer treatment, and a member of multiple Boards.

David Langsom, Editor, Biotech Daily, reflects, “He was one of the CEOs who actually listened to alternative views. We got on very well. The first time Marc Sinatra and I met him at Donato's restaurant in Bourke Street, we thought Bill Clinton had walked in the room. Tall, a thatch of neat, silver-white hair brushed back, good suit, Southern accent, charismatic ... you all know John. I shall miss him. A tragic waste of a good person's life.”

John was CEO of QRxPharma, Sydney, Australia for seven years (2007-2014). The biotech company addressed acute and chronic pain management, based on a patented dual opioid concept. QRxPharma broke the biotech mould of the time, both scientifically and financially. On May 25, QRxPharma (QRX) listed on the ASX with a $50m underwritten offering managed by JP Morgan along with Patersons and Ord Minnett. A record time of only four months elapsed from the start of diligence until completion of the offering.

John was also a board director of Neuren Pharamaceuticals for six years (2007 – 2013) – an Australian ASX-listed biotech company developing new therapies for neurodevelopmental disorders.

John was named Ernst & Young’s Entrepeneur of the Year 2006 Hall of Fame, held more than 80 patents globally, and had published more than 230 scientific articles, book chapters  and four books.

AusBiotech sends their condolences to John’s family, friends and colleagues during this difficult time.