May 2017  Herald Sun Melbourne

Veteran medical industry leader and ex-Cochlear chief Chris Roberts has been appointed chairman of implant maker OncoSil in a major coup for the biotech minnow. Dr Roberts, who led bionic ear manufacturer Cochlear — now a $8 billion titan — for more than a decade until August 2015 assumed the chairmanship at $54 million OncoSil early May. He has served on the board as a non-executive director since January last year. 

Chris RobertsHis appointment comes as OncoSil draws closer to commercialising its lead product, a tumour implant designed to deliver a more intense dose of radiation to cancer sufferers than external beam treatment.

Having already returned promising results in studies for safety and efficacy, the implant — designed to be inserted into solid tumours — is being put through its paces in a global pancreatic cancer study, with a Melbourne patient in late March the first to be recruited to the trial. European and US regulators will watch the results closely before deciding whether to clear the product for sale. At present, pancreatic cancer sufferers have a five-year survival rate of about one in 20 once diagnosed, the World Cancer Research Fund says. 

Adding an Order of Australia commendation this year to a string of accolades, Dr Roberts brings more than 40 years of medical innovation experience to the OncoSil role. He has history in the field, having been chairman of listed liver cancer treatment specialist Sirtex from 2002-02.

“OncoSil’s innovative technology ... has the potential to significantly improve the lives of people with cancer,” Dr Roberts said. “There have been several rewarding developments in recent months with the progression of the global pancreatic study programme and I look forward to extending my involvement in the company’s overall direction.”