At Seqirus, which is owned by global biotech leader CSL, we believe that our workforce should reflect the world around us, and all of us have a commitment to #breakthebias. On International Women’s Day, we dug into our archives to showcase where we came from to today through short biographies of women who have been making a difference On the Front Line for over a century.
May Kennedy - May commenced at CSL in 1919 working on mass production of a mixed-bacterial vaccine at the height of the Spanish influenza pandemic. Due to a combination of the effects of WWI and the fact that the virus disproportionately affected young men, there was a gap in the labor market. This gap enabled women, such as May, to step into positions and play critical roles in the workforce that previously denied them. Many of these women remained on staff, pursuing long and distinguished careers at CSL. During WWII, May was in charge of preparing donated blood for transfusions. In the early 1940s, May joined Dr. Tim O’Connor from CSL at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute to study Macfarlane Burnet’s pioneering technique of virus cultivation in egg embryos under his direct instruction. Although well-educated, she did not hold professional qualifications and was notable for being the first non-professional to be recognized as a co-author on a CSL published paper. May also worked as assistant to Saul Wiener who developed the redback spider and stonefish antivenoms.
Jocelyn Diaz – Jocelyn joined CSL's quality control group in 1995 after graduating with a degree in biochemistry and pharmacology. Then in 2003, she went on to conduct academic research until 2013 when she rejoined the company as a part of CSL’s technical development laboratory. In the image, Jocelyn was working on expanding a cell line from a T150 flask to inoculate cells in a bioreactor to produce monoclonal antibodies – which play an important role in testing and ensuring the quality of CSL’s products. Today, Jocelyn continues her leading-edge work in the monoclonal antibody space to help address specific public health needs and those of patients. Whether it’s generating reagents for COVID-19 related tests or discovering data to be used in the development of new tests for products yet to be released, Jocelyn says that ‘it’s always exciting when what you’re working on has a valuable purpose for public health and has the ability to impact the future of the company.’
Emma Polacsek - Emma joined CSL in 1948 as one of many new immigrants to Australia. Her first three years were spent in the bottling room dispensing antitoxins, insulin and vaccines as assistant grade 1 with a salary of £206 per annum. She studied for eight years during her employment, becoming one of the first members of the newly formed serum fractionation department in 1953. She advanced through the professional ranks to become production manager, blood products division.