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Professor Kjesten Wiig

Deputy Director

Professor Kjesten Wiig is Deputy Director at the Malaghan Institute. She is also Director of New Zealand’s RNA Technology Development Platform and Executive Director of  Vaccine Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand – Ohu Kaupare Huaketo. She is an Adjunct Professor at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington's Ferrier Research Institute—Te kāuru.

Kjesten'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 postdoctoral training at Brown University in Rhode Island, Prof Wiig 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, she 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.  There, she 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.  

BA (Hons), PhD (Otago)


Lavender B, Hooker C, Frampton C, Williams M, Carson S, Paterson A, McGregor R, Moreland NJ, Gell K, Priddy FH, Wiig K, Le Gros G, Ussher JE, Brewerton M (2023). Robust immunogenicity of a third BNT162b2 vaccination against SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant in a naïve New Zealand cohort. Vaccine. 41(38):5535-5544