Vetsina: Who we are
Developing new animal health diagnostic testing technologies
Vetsina is a new company formed by DESTINA Genomics and Roslin Technologies to develop innovative diagnostics for animal health and veterinary use.
The new tests will be based on DESTINA Genomics’ patented, chemical-based molecular diagnostic system that can directly detect tissue- and disease-specific RNA and microRNA biomarkers in biological fluids. Vetsina will also have access under its exclusive licence to DESTINA’s proprietary stabilisation buffer system, Stabiltech™. This transformative technology blocks degradation of target miRNAs in plasma and serum, which means that enabling samples can be prepared, shipped, and stored and then analysed without requiring refrigeration.
Together, Vetsina will develop these new technologies to form the basis of a new animal health diagnostic testing portfolio. The first assays will be launched for reference laboratory use, but the company ambition is to also develop cost effective point of care systems where indicated.
Roslin Technologies is a technology commercialisation company based at Easter Bush Campus in the University of Edinburgh. It was created to develop the commercial opportunities presented by the research and intellectual property of the Roslin Institute and the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies. Vetsina will use this significant expertise in RNA and microRNA research and animal diagnostics to deliver veterinary solutions that will positively impact animal health and welfare.
Board of Directors
Dr. Wells has extensive experience in the animal health pharmaceutical industry having held senior positions in major global companies for almost 30 years. Mainly involved in directing the research and development of vaccines and medicines for disease control and therapy, he emphasised the importance of linking these activities closely to the needs of the market. He was the former Global Head of Research and Development with Novartis Animal Health.
During his career he has overseen the commercialisation of nearly 50 products for the food producing species of cattle, sheep, pigs, fish and poultry, as well as for companion animals.
Since retiring from his role at Novartis, Dr. Wells has held several non-executive board positions. These include being Chairman of Moredun Scientific Ltd, a contract research organisation specialising in animal health and biosafety testing of biopharmaceuticals, and Chairman of GALVmed, a global alliance offering affordable animal health solutions to resource-poor smallholder farmers in Africa and South Asia.
After initially graduating as a veterinarian from the University of Edinburgh, Dr. Wells studied further at Ontario Veterinary College and was awarded a PhD in pharmacology and immunology.
Chief Executive Officer
Dr. Wheeler is a veterinarian and strategic leader with over 20 years’ experience of the global animal health industry. He has previously held strategic, technical, marketing and innovation roles in various companies, including Pharmacia and Novartis.
He also reached senior positions in clinical veterinary academia in the UK and US, lecturing at international meetings and conducting research, as well as publishing three books and over 125 articles and chapters, and mentoring trainees. He has received a number of awards for teaching and contributions to veterinary surgery.
Recently, Dr. Wheeler has held several consultancies, including Chief Operating Officer of Roslin Technologies, an Edinburgh-based biotech start up, and he was commercial consultant to Advanced Anaesthesia Specialists. He has supported various biotech companies as well as holding several board positions.
A qualified veterinarian, Jacqui has worked in animal health for over 30 years. Until 2019, she was based in academia, where she led research programmes supported by >£13 million competitive funding. These projects had wide industry impact relating to livestock infectious disease and generated >140 associated peer-reviewed publications and many lay articles. During this period, she developed, from first principles, a diagnostic test for small redworm in horses, which was commercialised in 2019.
In 2017, she was awarded Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) Fellowship and Elsevier’s International Journal for Parasitology Award. Jacqui is a RCVS Recognised Specialist (Parasitology) and Honorary Professor at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies and currently has a ministerial appointment on the UK Veterinary Products Committee and sits on two UKRI BBSRC Committees.
In 2019, she moved to Roslin Technologies, where she leads on Strategic Partnerships and manages the R&D programme, bringing scientific innovations to the agri and animal health sectors. She has a strong commercial awareness, combined with a long track record in translational science, project development, Board & Committee engagement, and public speaking.
David Whitcombe has more than 10 years of academic research and 15 years in industrial R&D. David has produced a number of publications and patents including the Scorpions technology that formed the basis of his start-up business DxS Ltd in 2000. He was Head of Technology Development at AstraZeneca Diagnostics for four years leading a team focused on developing new genomic technologies. David successfully developed DxS over 8 years before securing an exit in September 2009 for a total enterprise value in excess of £100M.
Dr Vanya Vasileva
Head of Research and Product Development
Dr Vanya Vasileva received her Bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences (2009) and Master’s degree in Molecular Biology of the Cell (2011) from the University of Milan. In the second year of her Master’s, she was awarded an Erasmus student exchange scholarship with the University of Valencia in the field of Biochemistry and Cell Biology. In 2011, Vanya moved to Centre of Gene Regulation and Expression, University of Dundee. She graduated from University of Dundee with a Ph.D. degree in Life Sciences (2016). Her thesis focused on developing novel engineered assays for dissecting molecular mechanisms involved in cell division via high-resolution microscopy (Vasileva et al. 2017). After a short postdoc, she joined a Clinical Microfluidics lab in Edinburgh with a joint position of a Scientific Officer/RA between Heriot-Watt University and Edinburgh Medical School where she worked with microfluidic engineers for development of lab-on-a-chip devices for clinical diagnostics. After a short experience in the charity sector where she oversaw the impact and intellectual property of the charity-funded research portfolio, she joined Vetsina Animal Diagnostics this year. In the role of Head of Research and Product development, Vanya will provide the team with a broad experience in molecular biology research, portfolio development, grant applications and project management.