Comvita: Unlocking nature’s secrets

Women Leading Bay Business | EXPORT

Dr Jackie Evans in the lab
Dr Jackie Evans is the Chief Science Officer for Comvita (NZX:CVT), the global leader in Mānuka honey with 650+ staff across eleven countries worldwide.

Growing up in Cornwall, England, surrounded by nature, Jackie developed a lifelong passion for the natural world. It was unsurprising then, that she pursued a career in Life Sciences, first completing a degree in Microbiology, then a PhD in Virology. “I was very fortunate to study for my PhD in London at one of the world’s leading HIV research laboratories,” she reflects.

However, Jackie felt her true calling lay beyond the confines of a laboratory, a decision that led her to pursue a Pharmaceutical Industry career leading global HIV and Cancer clinical trials at GlaxoSmithKline and Amgen. “For me, science isn’t real until it’s helping people in the world. My pharma years taught me that consumer focus, and collaborating with world-leading clinicians and researchers, is key to delivering meaningful outcomes.”

Dr Evans joined Comvita in 2017, at its market support centre in Paengaroa. “Many of the world’s medicines today were initially sourced from nature, so joining Comvita, with its global presence and long history of uncovering the Science of Nature, was a great fit.” With more than 2,000 natural compounds, Mānuka Honey is a powerhouse of bioactivity. It’s unique, scientifically proven, antimicrobial and wound healing properties made it famous, catapulting Comvita’s MediHoneyTM Wound Gel and Dressings into global hospital usage.

As Chief Science Officer, Dr. Evans sits on Comvita’s Global Leadership Team and is advancing the science behind Mānuka Honey, Propolis, and Olive Leaf ExtractTM, to enable the acceleration of its long-term growth strategies. Comvita invests over $5 million annually in R&D, surpassing the rest of the industry combined. She also sits on the Unique Manuka Factor Honey Association (UMFHA) Board.

David Banfield, Group CEO applauds Jackie’s impact, stating, “Jackie joined our leadership team back in 2020, bringing her unique skillset, utilising expertise from Big Pharma and world class academia to Premium Natural Health and Wellness at Comvita.”

Under Jackie’s leadership Comvita has expanded its health research to include Digestive health, Immunity, Cardiovascular Health and Antimicrobial Resistance. Comvita is currently nearing the end of its first phase of clinical research on LepteridineTM, a patent-protected natural compound found only in Manuka Honey that inhibits inflammatory pathways in Gut Disorders.

Jackie is excited about the future. “The research we are doing today is poised to create an even more exciting Science enabled chapter for Comvita, and I count myself very lucky to be leading such an incredible team of scientists, and being part of a talented leadership team, helping to heal and protect the world using pure and potent products from nature.”

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