Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Cyrus Poonawalla

Cyrus Poonawalla

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.
Early Career
Born into a family whose decades-old ties to India’s horse racing circuit through the family's owned Poonawalla Stud Farms, by age 20, Dr. Poonawalla realized that horse racing had "no future in the socialist India of the time." And first experimented with cars. along with his school friend he built a $120 prototype sports car modeled on the D-type Jaguar. But producing it on a commercial basis required more money than they had. Dr. Poonawalla abandoned the idea, realizing that making a product for the masses, rather than India's elite, would be a smart move.

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.
Business Pharmaceuticals

In 1966 Dr. Poonawalla and his brother Zavaray launched Serum Institute of India which launched its first therapeutic anti-tetanus serum within two years, and began producing the anti-tetanus vaccines.

By 1974 they introduced the DTP vaccine, which protects children from diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis, followed by an anti-snake-venom serum for snakebites in 1981.

In 1989 Serum Institute began the production of its Measles Vaccine M-Vac and within a year Serum Institute became the country's largest vaccine manufacturer. In the 80s India was made self-sufficient for Tetanus, Diphtheria and Whooping Cough vaccines thanks to the production from Serum Institute.
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.
Horse Racing

Dr. Poonawalla has strong ties with India’s horse racing and breeding Industry through the family’s Poonawalla Stud Farms, started by his late father and now run by him and his younger brother Zavaray. He was the sole representative of India at the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA) and was a member of the Asian Racing Federation (ARF) for more than a decade.

He was also elected Vice Chairman of the Asian Racing Federation and also held various esteemed posts in the Horseracing field that include Chairman, Turf Authorities of India, Royal Western India Turf Club, Stud Book Authority of India and Pattern Races Committee.
Personal Life
Dr. Poonawalla  was educated at Bishops School, Poona and graduated from Brihan Maharashtra College of Commerce (BMCC) in 1966. He was awarded a Ph.D. by the Pune University  in 1988 for his thesis entitled "Improved Technology in the manufacture of specific Anti-toxins and its socio-economic impact on the Society".


Dr. Poonawalla was married to the late Mrs. Villoo Poonawalla and have a son Adar who is the Executive Director (Operations) at the Serum Institute and is leading Serum's charge into new drugs and markets.
Dr. Poonawalla has a passion for collecting cars and has fascinating collection of sports cars and custom-built limousines.  He owns a Cessna 560XL Citation Excel jet, Bell 407 helicopter and recently acquired a new Falcon 900EX business jet.


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