CEO the Year 2021: Best CEO in Medical Science

Suthira Taychakhoonavudh, PhD

Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of Baiya Phytopharm

Key Achievements

Medicinal marvel

In this ongoing battle against Covid-19, Baiya Phytopharm co-founded by Asst Prof Suthira Taychakhoonavudh gives hope for all Thais to have a locally-manufactured vaccine against the contagious disease.

Suthira also serves as CEO of Baiya Phytopharm, a start-up company under Chulalongkorn University. As Thailand’s first pharmaceutical company that is able to manufacture medicines and vaccines from the very first step of production, Baiya expects to have Covid-19 shots available to the public by the middle of next year.

Baiya Phytopharm was founded in 2019 by Suthira together with Assoc Prof Waranyu Poolcharoen. Suthira is also working as a lecturer at Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences.

A mother of two, Suthira graduated with a bachelor’s and master’s from Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences before doing a PhD at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, in the United States. Her forte is health economics where she looks to ensure people in Thailand have proper access to medicines.

What she realised, however, is that despite the universal coverage programme, a number of patients are still not able to get the medication they require especially when it comes to expensive ones like cancer drugs. Unfortunately, when Thailand is not able to produce these drugs, the only choice is to rely on those imported from other countries which means a painful medical bill — a burden for patients.

“The government has invested in a number of [pharmaceutical] research programmes which are only put on the shelf instead of putting them into practice,” she added. “So I started questioning why it was like that and if we could do something to improve the situation.”

With her own and Waranyu’s money, Suthira decided to found Baiya Phytopharm in 2019. The first company under Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences to have entered the CU Innovation Hub, a platform for start-up companies to grow, Baiya Phytopharm owns technology to manufacture recombinant proteins necessary for the production of medicines and vaccines.

Simply put, Baiya Phytopharm is a Thai company that can make drugs and vaccines from scratch.

“Suthira Taychakhoonavudh is CEO of Baiya Phytopharm, a start-up company founded with Chulalongkorn University in 2019. The company is Thailand’s first in the pharmaceutical space capable of designing and manufacturing medicines and vaccines all the way from the research stage to distribution.”