Dr. Cyrus Poonawalla, Chairman of Poonawalla Group which includes Serum Institute of India, India's top biotech company which is among the world's largest makers of pediatric vaccines.
A chance conversation with a vet at the farm led Dr. Poonawalla into vaccines. At the time, the farm's retired horses were donated to government-owned Haffkine Institute in Mumbai, which made vaccines from horse serum.
Dr. Poonawalla figured he could take up the challenge of meeting the demand for vaccines in the country by extracting the serum from horses himself and producing cheaper vaccines. He and his brother Zavaray, who partnered with him early on, raised $12,000 selling horses and persuaded their father to put up the rest. They set up the venture in 1966 on a 12-acre lot and began producing vaccines.
In 1994, Serum Institute got accredited by the World Health Organization (WHO) to export vaccines from India and started supplying high quality vaccines to U.N. Agencies such as UNICEF (United Nations Children's Fund), PAHO (Pan American Health Organization).
From the inception, Dr. Poonawalla’s primary concept was not only to make life-saving drugs and vaccines, which were in shortage in the country, but also to see that every child was protected. At that time his dictum was "Health for all by 2000 AD". The resultant effort was the National Program of Immunization, which is largely dependent on the vaccines manufactured by Serum Institute and now that philosophy has proliferated worldwide to International U.N. Agencies.
By 1998 Serum Institute was exporting vaccines to over a 100 countries and by 2000 one out of every two children in the world was vaccinated by a vaccine of Serum Institute of India.
Dr. Poonawalla’s strong belief in "No Compromise with Quality" and willfull commitment in "Health for All with affordable Vaccines” has today lead Serum Institute to become India’s leading biotech company producing over a billion doses a year that sell in more than 140 countries around the world.