DoseMe Founder receives UQ Alumni Award

26 September 2022

IMB Alumni Dr Robert McLeay has been awarded the Colleges’ UQ Alumni Award for outstanding contributions to Emmanuel College, and innovation in the field of healthcare.

Robert McLeay is the founder of medical startup company, DoseMe, the first company in the world to offer precision drug dosing software specifically developed for clinical use.

Prior to this, Dr McLeay led software development teams and then completed a PhD in Bioinformatics at UQ’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience.

Today, DoseMeRx enables individualised dosing in hundreds of hospitals across 10 countries, supporting over 7,000 clinician users.

It supports 42 drug models ranging from antibiotics to transplant medicines to chemotherapy, and to date has calculated over 1.4 million medication doses.

What inspired you to pursue the career you did?

I was always interested in science, and in high school attended the National Youth Science Forum, which was very eye-opening for showing the vast number of industry careers that are available. That said, “pursue” makes it sound like I had a plan! Curiosity and persistence (my wife may say stubbornness) and a generous helping of serendipity were probably the main factors.

I was first introduced to the concept behind DoseMe (calculating individualised medication dosages) at a BBQ attended by quite a few UQ academics. One asked a question “Have you ever wondered how you calculate a dose for a clinical trial… wouldn’t it be nice to be able to do this for individual patients?” This question, combined with being told by the same person who proposed the idea saying that I wouldn’t be able to make it work was enough inspiration to develop the prototype, and we just went from there.

If you could change one thing about the world for the next generation, what would it be?

World peace and climate change are of course both at the top of the list: but to be contrary and pick something different, I’d like to see an increase or return to third places – places that are neither work nor home. College provided a place where I could meet people across a range of backgrounds and interests. I used to play jazz (poorly, but for fun) with an insurance CEO, a chemistry professor, and an engineer. Without having spaces to meet others who are different to ourselves, we can separate ourselves into an echo-chamber, with harm to ourselves and society – and not to mention life becomes much less interesting and fun.

What are you most proud of?

My family – my wife Sarah, my son Ian, and daughter Isla. We need to keep our work in perspective, and nothing that I can do will be as important as my family.

That said, in healthcare we have an impact on other families – and everyone is someone’s child, or mother, or father. For example, we had hospitals report at conferences that by using DoseMe they reduced their acute kidney injury (AKI) incidence rate from 12 per cent to two per cent – a six-fold reduction – and having an AKI occur to you more than quadruples your risk of death at the hospital, so this was a significant impact we had on healthcare and ultimately, other families.

College life and lifelong friendships

I went to Emmanuel College for three years during my undergraduate study, and then later had the opportunity to serve on the college council. I think that most people underestimate the value that you obtain from living in college. I’ve been introduced to job opportunities through friendships made in college, and also hired people through recommendations from trusted friends. Most importantly, you meet people across a wide range of fields of study – not just from your own.