Versantis is a Swiss pharmaceutical company, Spin-off of ETH Zurich, developing a new generation of medicines and diagnostics to revolutionize the care of patients with liver disease. Embracing lifesaving and preventive therapies, Versantis aims to answer the unmet medical need of millions of people worldwide.
Its lead candidate, VS-01, is currently at clinical stage (Phase Ib) and has the potential to be the first drug for acute liver disease simultaneously supporting multiple failing organs. VS-01 targets 3 rare indications and received an Orphan Drug Designation in ALF. In addition, Versantis’ pipeline promises to improve patients’ outcome in other medical fields; VS-02 and VS-03 are developed for chronic liver diseases and for the treatment of drug intoxications, both representing large market opportunities and significant upsides for Versantis.
Management and core team
Vincent Forster (PhD), CEO and Board Member
Biomedical engineer by training (EPFL Lausanne and UCSD San Diego), Vincent received his Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Sciences at ETH Zurich, Switzerland.
He has hands-on experience in biomedical and pharmaceutical disciplines essential to the optimization of VS-01. He worked over 7 years validating the initial proof of efficacy and safety and is now leading the team developing the next generation of VS products. For his scientific contribution to VS-01 he was awarded in 2015 with the Phoenix Group Award in the category Pharmaceutical Technology. In 2016 he received the Pfizer Research Award, the most prestigious prize for medical research in Switzerland, awarded to young scientists who have made outstanding and pioneering contributions in basic or clinical research.
Meriam Kabbaj (PhD), COO and Board Member
Meriam is pharmacist by training (University of Geneva) and received her PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Montreal.
She has hands-on experience in the range of preclinical and clinical drug development, quality assessment and regulatory affairs. She worked 10 years in a leading Contract Research Organization (Celerion, formerly MDS pharma Sciences), specialized in applied translational medicine. She held many key operational and leadership positions. Her role culminated as a Team Leader of Clinical Pharmacology Europe, managing the generation of hundreds of protocols as well as non-clinical and clinical study reports. She contributed to successful submissions for products in several indications including gastrointestinal diseases.
Sophie Biguenet (MD), CMO
Dr. Biguenet is a board-certified General and Pediatric surgeon who completed her residency at Nancy Medical School (France) and at the Pediatric Liver Transplant Unit from Paris-Sud University Hospital (Kremlin-Bicêtre, France). She received her Medical Degree from Nancy Medical School (France).
Dr Sophie Biguenet has more than 15 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry. She held global leadership positions in Clinical Development but also Drug Safety and Medical Affairs in Europe and USA. She led the development (US, EU, AF) of small molecules and biologics from pre-IND to filing and has an extensive track record in pediatric and neglected diseases. Prior to joining Versantis, she played a leading role in developing Pediatric portfolios in Infectious Diseases (HIV, RSV, HBV, HCV, Malaria), Neuro-Immunology and Immuno-Transplantation at Abbvie (USA), Bristol-Myers Squibb (USA and EU) and Medicines for Malaria Venture (Geneva, Switzerland). She also worked on various calcineurin inhibitors sparing regimens in liver transplantation (Roche, France).
Rekha Johnson (PhD), QA Lead
Rekha is natural scientist by training and received her PhD in Quantum Dots (Colloidal Nanoparticles) at the University of Oxford.
Since 1999 she has worked in clinical development in database programming, clinical-quality, -data & -study management. She worked 3 years in a VC-funded Clinical Data Start-Up in the Netherlands and 7 years in Roche Switzerland in the Pharmaceuticals & Diagnostics Business Units. She also has experience as a group manager of investigator-initiated trials on 100+ marketed products and in leading divisional process changes to achieve regulatory compliance. This led to GxP quality, compliance & training roles and a passion for workplace psychology to lift organisational and individual performance. Alongside work she is certifying as a Transactional Analyst focusing on Organisations.
Board of Directors
Peter Nicklin, Chairman
Peter Nicklin is a senior healthcare executive with 25 years operational experience, based on a finance background. He has extensive international experience over many years with a very broad healthcare perspective including pharmaceuticals. His career is highlighted by significant business development leadership and turnaround experience. Until April 2014, he was Corporate Vice President and EMEA President of Baxter International, with responsibility for Baxter’s $4 B business in the region. Baxter is an international leader company in peritoneal dialysis.
Dr. Michael Sidler
Michael co-founded Redalpine Venture Partners AG in Zürich in 2007 and acts as General Partner for Redalpine Capital I, Redalpine Capital II and Redalpine Capital III. Before Redalpine, Michael was responsible for corporate investments and M&A at Prionics AG, a Biotech company in Schlieren, Switzerland, where under his guidance several acquisitions have been completed. From 1998 to 2003, Michael was with The Boston Consulting Group in Zürich and Toronto as a Consultant and Project Leader in several different industries and roles. Michael Sidler has a PhD in Life Sciences from University of Zürich. He is a member of several organizations, juries and boards for the support of innovation and startups (Venturekick, Technopark Zürich, Swiss Startup Finance, Kickstart Accelerator) and a coach for the Swiss governmental program CTI-Startup.
Dr. Lluís Pareras
Lluís co-founded Healthequity in 2012 to focus on early-stage investment in healthcare companies. Degree and PhD in Medicine, he is aspecialist in neurosurgery, and Global Executive MBA (IESE). He has been director of Meditecnologia, and he leads the innovation and incubation program at COMB, investing in companies in the healthcare market. He analyzes more than 200 business plans per year, and he has been involved in investments and follow-on’s in different healthcare startups.
Prof. Dr. Jean-Christophe Leroux, Member of the Scientific Advisory Board
Prof. Leroux is an internationally recognized authority in pharmaceutical technologies and is currently Chair and Professor at the Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences at ETH Zürich. He has published almost 200 peer-reviewed scientific articles, 13 book chapters and 15 patents/patent applications. He is included in the Thomson Reuter list of the most cited scientists in Pharmacy and Pharmacology. Recently, he has out-licenced 3 of his technologies to pharmaceutical companies, demonstrating his ability in leveraging laboratory research in a translational direction.