Home > Our expertise > Our people > Science Leadership > Professor Kjesten Wiig

Professor Kjesten Wiig

Director of Strategic Partnerships, VAANZ Executive Director

Professor Wiig is the Malaghan Institute's Director of Strategic Partnerships and is Executive Director of  Vaccine Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand – Ohu Kaupare Huaketo. She is also on the Government's Strategic Vaccine Taskforce and is interim co-director of the Government-funded RNA development platform

Prof Wiig received her PhD from the University of Otago and completed her postdoctoral training at Brown University in the United States. She is an Adjunct Professor at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington's Ferrier Research Institute—Te kāuru.

She worked as Director of Behavioral Neuropharmacology at Sention, a company that was spun out of Brown University based on her postdoctoral work. Sention aimed to create new therapeutics for memory loss.  She also served as Director of Neuropharmacology at Galenea, a company spun out of MIT in Boston, that aimed to create new treatments for schizophrenia. At both companies, Dr Wiig was responsible for all pre-clinical research, involving the development of compounds for multiple disease indications including mild cognitive impairment, Fragile X, schizophrenia, obesity and Huntington’s Disease.  She also actively participated in intellectual property strategy, and business development and managed major collaborations with universities and pharmaceutical companies. 

Prof Wiig then brought her experience in creating value out of science to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment in New Zealand.  There, she worked as National Manager for Commercialisation and Director of Innovative Partnerships, a programme she created and grew to enable international companies to establish an R&D presence in New Zealand. 

BA (Hons), PhD (Otago)