Get to know the Ozgene team

  • Dr Frank Koentgen
    Chairman & CEO >

    FrankFrank is a successful entrepreneur, scientist, and international biotechnology leader with more than 25 years experience in Research and Development in molecular genetics. He is Co-founder and CEO of Ozgene. He successfully runs the company in a very efficient and lean, yet comfortable manner, wearing the traditional Aussie outfit of board shorts and t-shirt, coupled with German Birkenstocks.

    Even though he looks like a surfing enthusiast, his life accomplishments tell a different story. He received his PhD from the University of Freiburg, Germany in affiliation with the Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Immunobiology and Roche Pharmaceuticals (Basel, Switzerland). His work there culminated in the establishment of the world’s first successful C57BL/6 knockout mouse.

    He then went on to complete postdoctoral research at the Roche Institute for Molecular Biology (RIMB) located in Nutley, New Jersey, USA. After completing his initial postdoctoral research, Frank was awarded a German DFG research fellowship and moved to the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute (WEHI) in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. His research at the WEHI resulted in numerous peer-reviewed publications in prestigious scientific journals and multiple patents granted worldwide.

    Frank is very passionate about applying Lean thinking in research environments. He has studied Toyota and many other Lean practitioners in Japan, as part of the Shingo Study Tour, and he was recently appointed a Shingo Executive Advisory Board member. Within his own research organisation, Ozgene’s unique style of lean transformation drives the company’s new leadership mindset as the very basis for all of its scientific endeavours:

    “to advance humanity – inspire curiosity”

  • Dr Gabi Suess
    Chief Scientific Officer >

    Dr Suess is one of Ozgene's Co-founders and is our Chief Scientific officer. Gabi is mostly involved with Ozgene’s intensive Research & Development programs. These efforts result in establishing novel technologies to develop and investigate genetically modified mouse models.

    Gabi received her PhD from the University of Basel, Switzerland. She has held research appointments at Roche Pharmaceuticals in Basel, the Max-Planck-Institute for Immunobiology, in Freiburg, Germany and at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute for Medical Research in Melbourne, Australia.

    Gabi is an immunologist by training and has been involved in the generation and analysis of genetically modified mouse models for over 25 years.

  • Eddie Noonan
    Chief Business Development Officer >

    Eddie joined Ozgene in 2002 and is responsible for developing new business opportunities for Ozgene in both international and domestic markets. As the Chief Business Development Officer, Eddie is our go-to guy. He makes sure Ozgene runs like a well-oiled machine. He also establishes strategic alliances, pursues new targets in the market place, and travels the world promoting Ozgene. He carries a lot of weight on his shoulders and excels at it.

    Previous to his work with Ozgene, Eddie worked for In Vitro Technologies and Rio Tinto in Australia, and Tyndall National Institute in Ireland. He has a Master of Engineering Management, Science and Engineering from Curtin University in Perth. In his spare time, you can find Eddie obsessing over Rugby.

  • Joanne Deys
    Executive VP Strategic Partnering >

    Joanne Deys joined Ozgene in the fall of 2017 as Executive Vice President Strategic Partnering. Joanne brings with her 30 years of multi-industry, LEAN, and global experience. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Technology, a Harvard Micro MBA certificate, and a Six Sigma Certification.

    Starting as an engineer in the automotive industry, Joanne progressed her career through labour relations to running operations as a Value Stream segment leader. She then stepped into supply chain with the goal of driving materials excellence, in order to have operations excellence. The next 15 years included automotive, aerospace and industrial experience. From there, Joanne continued her progression in business to become the VP Integrated Supply Chain for Kautex followed by the VP Global Sales and Operations Planning for Stanley Engineered Fastening - a $2.4 billion revenue division of Stanley Black and Decker.

    As President of Brightside Alliance, Joanne continued to use her Lean background and knowledge of Lean principals, concepts, and tools. Joanne worked with companies in Oil and Gas, Fire and Safety, Biotech, and Pharma to drive systems and process improvements that enable positive organisational change. Joanne serves on the SHINGO Examination board as a Lead Examiner, as well as, a member of the Examination Board Committee. This committee works to continuously improve customer experience through the continued development of the SHINGO processes and examination teams. Joanne sits on the Lean Certification and Oversights Committee, an alliance between the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, Shingo, and AME.

    Joanne’s role at Ozgene is to work within the team and with our customers focused on developing Strategic Partnering by improving flows that enable us to grow with and add value for our partners. In addition to that, her background adds strength to our organisational capability journey.

    Joanne is the sporty one, so when she is not working, you can find her either training for the next national swimming competition or traveling with family, exploring.

  • Dr Roger Askew
    Sr Scientific Director (North America) >

    Roger joined the Ozgene team in May 2015 as our Sr Scientific Director in North America. He is based in Boston, MA. Roger comes to us with twenty years of industry experience developing and phenotyping genetically engineered models (GEMs) in collaborative support of the Therapeutic Areas (TAs) at three pharmaceutical companies.

    Roger received his PhD from Wesleyan University, Dept of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry and spent his post-doctoral days at the University of Cincinnati Medical School in the laboratories or Drs Jerry Lingrel and Thomas Doetschman where he developed the gene-targeted “Tag-and-Echage" strategy for knocking in subtle mutations, including point mutations, into the mouse genome.

    boston mouse

    Roger’s Pharma career started at Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, where he established the gene targeting core and managed the Molecular Genetics Department supporting all Wyeth TAs. Next Roger joined Merck & co., where he managed outsourced GEM development and phenotyping supporting the Diabetes, and Bone & Endocrinology pipelines. Most recently, he established Biogen’s GEM Center supporting Neurology, Immunology, and Tissue Injury and Fibrosis TAs.

    Roger is an integral part of our Strategic Partnering team and enthusiastically engages with scientists from all areas. Please feel free to contact him to plan a hike in the high Sierras or to brainstorm genetically engineered models and the characterization/phenotyping of your GEMs of interest.

  • Dr Bernd Kinzel
    Sr Scientific Director (Europe) >

    Dr Bernd Kinzel joined the Ozgene team in February 2018 as our new Senior Scientific Director covering Europe. Bernd has over 20 years of experience in biomedical research and model creation as an Investigator and Director at Novartis in Basel, Switzerland.

    At Novartis, Bernd was the Basel Site Head of the ‘Models of Disease Center’ and the Global Head of ‘Animal Engineering & Discovery’, altogether for more than 10 years. This gave him a wealth of experience in building and leading state of the art facilities for the design and characterisation of genetically modified mouse models. Disease models were created by conventional transgenesis, homologous recombination in ES cells, as well as by CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing. Activities in the Swiss and US facilities covered a broad range of technologies, such as transgenic services, phenotyping, histology and molecular profiling, which were applied to a wide variety of disease areas.

    In addition, Bernd has experience in the design and use of modified exosomes for therapies and targeted drug delivery, including genetic modification of exosome producing stem cells, drug loading, and analysis of modified exosomes in preclinical studies. Earlier in his career Bernd also worked in different projects involving reporter assay design, viral transduction and RNA therapy, primarily in respiratory diseases and oncology.

    At Ozgene Bernd’s role is to build relationships with our Europe-based clients to generate the right mouse model for your preclinical studies and to help you achieve your colony management and phenotyping goals. If you are based in Europe and interested in exploring the feasibility of generating a disease model for your project, you will no doubt be talking to Bernd.

    Bernd loves Australia and leaves Switzerland regularly to visit the ‘Land Down Under’ for both business and pleasure.

  • Dr Jonathan Gauntlett
    Staff Scientist >

    Jonathan is instrumental in guiding our team on projects from start to finish. Prior to joining Ozgene Jonathan worked at Ondek Ltd in their Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics Group, where he worked on the construction of genetic systems. His main focus involved vector design and gene knockouts and knock-ins for the manipulation of Helicobacter pylori for human applications.

    Jonathan gained his PhD at the University of Otago and undertook his post-doc research at Massey University, New Zealand, where he isolated, purified and biochemically characterised bacterial membrane proteins, cloned vectors, and created knockout strains.

    At Ozgene, Jonathan provides our clients with exceptional project design and construction expertise. He is responsible for client project assessments and vector design. He also analyses and reviews internal scientific processes with a view of continuously improving them.

    Even though Jonathan comes to Perth from New Zealand, he has embraced Perth weather and routinely cycles to work on his push bike. We commend him for his environmental ways and the important work he does for us (of course!).

  • Maarit Patrick
    Executive Strategic Partnering >

    Maarit joined Ozgene in 2003 as a Personal Assistant to Dr Koentgen and was quickly promoted to Marketing and Sales Coordinator. She is now an Executive in our Strategic Partnering team, liaising with clients to create solutions for their needs. Over the years, Maarit has expanded Ozgene's clientele to Finland, Sweden, Hong Kong, Turkey, and Argentina. Maarit also coordinates Ozgene's marketing activities and has played an integral part in developing Ozgene's IT tools for marketing, sales, and customer relationship management.

    Maarit holds a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degree from her home country, Finland. She majored in international business and has worked for multinational companies, such as Nokia Networks in Finland and Dow Chemical Company in Germany. She is currently studying towards Master of Commerce (Marketing) at Curtin University in Perth.

    If you enquire about Ozgene’s services, it is very likely that you will have the pleasure of speaking with Maarit. If you do, be sure to ask her about her ice climbing adventures as she used to be an avid ice climber when she lived in Finland.

  • Jacqui Watts
    Project Coach >

    Jacqui became an Ozgene team member in 2002 as a Laboratory Assistant. Throughout her time at Ozgene she has been promoted to several different roles and currently holds the title of Project Coach. She maintains contact with clients throughout the entire process from vector construction through to shipping the final product. She is also dabbling in some sales duties as well. You will definitely hear from Jacqui if you contract Ozgene’s services.

    Jacqui has a Bachelor of Biomedical Science specialising in Molecular Genetics. She has an excellent knowledge base of everything that Ozgene does. If you have a question, she will most likely be able to answer it or find the person who can.

    Between work and mothering three children, two being twins, Jacqui is one very busy person!

  • Charley Worrall
    Culture Coach >

    Charley joined Ozgene as a Culture Coach in July 2014. The Culture Coach’s job (which is a bit different from the “usual” HR job) is to “grow the company by growing the people”. Charley’s aim is to nurture a working environment, which enhances respect for the human system. It is an instrument to instill confidence and trust within each team member, and to encourage the team to improve themselves and the company, even if that means a failure or two along the way… because as we all know, failure is also a fantastic tool to learn from.

    Before starting at Ozgene, Charley completed a Bachelor of Arts (BA), Double Major in Psychology from the University of Western Australia. After graduating she visited Mongolia as a volunteer psychologist, working with local social workers and other volunteers on topics such as stress management for nurses in an oncology hospital, and improving the emotional connections between carers and young children in orphanages in the capital Ulaanbaatar.

    Currently Charley is studying for her Masters in Human Resource Management from Edith Cowan University, Perth. In her spare time you can find her experimenting and testing her culinary skills (proving that the English CAN cook) and looking for new places to take her 10-year-old West Highland Terrier, Dougal, for walks.

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Frank's Lean talks

  • Shingo Institute, Logan, UT, USA
  • MBA Program, University of Utah, USA
  • OC Tanner, Salt Lake City, UT, USA
  • Ophir-Spiricon, Logan, UT, USA
  • ELITechGroup, Logan, UT, USA
  • Sebel Furniture, Sydney, NSW, Australia
  • Telethon Kids Institute, Perth, WA, Australia
  • AME Business Excellence, Perth, WA, Australia

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Frank's papers

Proven Track Record

The team at Ozgene has over two decades of experience creating customised knockout and knock-in mice for pivotal medical research globally. Over 350 scientific publications are based on research using Ozgene mice.

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Global Client Base

Ozgene generates genetically customised mice for researchers around the world. Ozgene mice can be found in 31 different countries on 5 continents from small academic institutions to multinational pharmaceutical companies.

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Lean Management

Ozgene is applying Lean Management principles to deliver the highest quality services and shortest lead times to our customers. The implementation of Lean Culture has already seen an improvement in our processes and timelines.

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