Synendos Therapeutics was incorporated in April 2019 as spin-off company of the University of Bern and as first spin-off company of the drug discovery consortium NCCR TransCure.
Synendos stems from 10 years of solid basic research on endocannabinoid biology and pharmacology carried out at the University of Bern by Prof. Jürg Gertsch and Dr. Andrea Chicca.
Management & Executive team
Dr. Andrea Chicca, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Scientific Officer
Andrea holds a PhD in Pharmacology from the University of Pisa. After his first post-doctoral studies in cancer biology at the Istituto Toscano Tumori (Firenze, Italy), Andrea joined the group of Prof. J. Gertsch at the University of Bern initially working as post-doctoral scientist, then senior scientist and principal investigator.
In 2018, Andrea obtained the venia docendi in Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine awarded from the Medical Faculty of the University of Bern and he also obtained the habilitation for professorship in Pharmacology from the Italian Ministry of Education and Research. In 2020, Andrea successfully completed the Master of Advanced Studies in Translational Medicine and Biomedical Entrepreneurship co-organized by Sitem-Insel School and University of Bern. Andrea is co-author of 50 scientific articles published in international peer-reviewed journals.
He strongly contributed to the elucidation of the endocannabinoid membrane transport mechanism and the development of SERIs of first and second generation. Andrea is co-inventor on a granted patent covering SERIs of first generation in the US.
Before joining the University of Bern, Andrea worked for almost 2 years as a scientific advisor in the corporate marketing of Chiesi Pharmaceuticals (Parma, Italy), where he acquired hands-on experience in preclinical and clinical drug development.
Andrea Chicca is a co-founder of Synendos Therapeutics.
Dr. Daniela Alberati, Head of Preclinical and Translation Neuropharmacology
Daniela holds a Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Enzymology from the University of Milan (Italy). After a short period at Hoffmann-La Roche in Italy, Daniela moved to the Headquarter in Basel where she worked as post-doctoral scientist in the Department of Neuroscience.
Daniela continued her professional career in the same department, spending more than 20 years in pharmaceutical research and early development in Neuroscience holding different leading positions at Hoffmann-La Roche as Head of the Neurochemistry, Senior Scientific Advisor and Vice-Director. As project leader of multiple programs across psychiatric, neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative indications, Daniela has a proven track record of several NMEs reaching different clinical stages of development for the treatment of psychiatric diseases. Daniela crucially contributed to advance the development of the glycine transport inhibitor type 1, bitopertin. Additionally, she supported the global strategy group to implement a mechanism of disease campaign for bitopertin and medical affair to raise external awareness on negative symptoms of schizophrenia and on the underlying neurobiology/pathophysiology in the psychiatric community (Advisory Boards and International Congresses).
She also served as permanent member of research governance committee evaluating project portfolio from project proposal to entry-into-human stage.
Beyond her role as project leader, Daniela chaired the Research and Domain Criteria (RDoC) working group composed by preclinical, clinical and biomarker experts with the goal of implementing this recently National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) launched research approach. The main goal was to increase the rate of success of drug development by establishing innovative translational paradigms and biomarkers in humans and animals to quickly achieve proof-of-concept for the agreed indication.
Before joining Synendos, Daniela worked for few years as Neuroscience and R&D Consultant for venture capitals and start-ups.
Daniela is deeply passionate and motivated in making effective medicines for patients with CNS diseases.
Board of Directors
Prof. Jutta Heim, Chairperson of the Board
Jutta worked for more than 20 years at Ciba-Geigy/Novartis (CH and US). At Novartis, she was involved in the successful development and launch of anti-thrombotic and fibrinolytic products. She established Novartis’ molecular genetics department in oncology, became Novartis’ Senior Scientific Expert in Molecular Biology and a member of the Research Management Board. Jutta completed her career at Novartis heading the Novartis Lead Discovery Center with worldwide responsibility.
From 2004 to 2009, Jutta served as CSO at Basilea Pharmaceutica Ltd. a Swiss biopharmaceutical company focusing on anti-infectives, inflammation and oncology. From 2009 to 2013, she served as CTO and CSO at Evolva SA, where she led Evolva’s discovery activities and strengthened the development of its technology platform.
Jutta is a board member of Union Therapeutics, Copenhagen and a member of the scientific advisory board of the Helmholtz Center for infection research, Braunschweig
Jutta received a Ph.D. from the University of Tübingen in 1981 and holds a professorship in Biotechnology at the Biocenter of the University of Basel.
Dr. Peter Neubeck
Peter is a Medical Doctor, educated at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich as well as Harvard Medical School and holds an MBA from INSEAD. After tenures at Großhadern University Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, and Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital followed by McKinsey & Company and several leadership positions at Novartis, he entered the Venture Capital industry. He took on responsibilities as an Investment Manager and collected valuable operational experience in various executive roles in company creations. Since January 2019 he heads the investment business of Kurma Partners in Germany.
Dr. Søren Lemonius
Søren is Managing General Partner and one of the three co-founders of Sunstone Life Science Ventures. He has particular focus on Investor relations and therapeutics.
Søren has 18 years’ experience from corporate management in R&D-intensive companies. As Innovation Manager at FOSS Analytical (a food diagnostics company), Søren successfully implemented new analytical technologies.
Prior to joining Sunstone, Søren served as Chief Technology Officer at Danionics (an electronic component company) where he participated in developing the company from a private, 30-employee, venture-backed technology company to a EUR +27 million revenue, +300-employee, listed company.
Søren holds a master’s degree in Experimental Cell Biology from the University of Southern Denmark.
Dr. Bettina Ernst
Dr. Bettina Ernst is a biotech entrepreneur and investor. She has expert knowledge in immunology acquired in different academic positions in Europe and the U.S. and has since worked in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. Bettina is a serial biotech entrepreneur and currently serves on the Board of Directors of several biotech companies.
Dr. Andrea Chicca
Andrea is a co-founder of Synendos Therapeutics and serves as Chief Executive Officer and Chief Scientific Officer in the company.
Dr. Simon Russell
Simon has over 30 years’ experience in both Biotech and Big Pharma across strategic marketing and scientific roles, over a wide range of therapy areas and phases. He is currently Chief Business Officer at OMEICOS Therapeutics GmbH, a Berlin based biotech, responsible for all commercial and business activities. He is also an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the BaseLaunch accelerator programme advising new ventures in the Basel area.
He was previously Chief Business Officer at Creabilis Ltd, taking it through a series of deals and financing before negotiating its sale to Sienna Bio-pharmaceuticals Inc in the US in December 2016. With Sienna he supported the subsequent listing of Sienna on NASDAQ in July 2017.
In his Big Pharma career, he has held senior global commercial roles at both Novartis as Head of Strategic Marketing for Biologics and AstraZeneca in Switzerland, Sweden and the UK, taking several products through Phase III and launch and defining development strategies for many early products across a wide range of therapy areas. Earlier he held significant R&D roles in Clinical Development, Development Management and Medicinal Chemistry.
He holds a PhD in Organic Chemistry from Southampton University and an MA in Chemistry from the University of Oxford in the UK.
Simon is a co-founder of Synendos Therapeutics.
Prof. Dr. Jürg Gertsch
Jürg studied cultural anthropology in Venezuela, neuroscience and biochemistry (MSc) in Basel and the UK. He holds a PhD in Natural Sciences from ETH Zurich.
After postdoctoral studies with Prof. Karl-Heinz Altmann at the Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences of the ETH Zurich, he became a group leader and was appointed track assistant professor in Bern in 2009. He was a visiting professor at the University of Cagliari (Italy) and Guadalajara (Mexico).
Since 2013, he is a full professor at the University of Bern for Membrane Biochemistry and Pharmacy. He is deputy and co-director of the Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine (IBMM) at the University of Bern and part of the management board of NCCR TransCure where he promotes Knowledge and Technology Transfer (KTT) activities.
His main research focus is on the molecular mechanisms of action of small organic compounds and natural products and their use as tools to understand biochemical processes. He has a strong interest in molecular pharmacology and the mechanistic role of the endocannabinoid system in inflammation and neuromodulation.
Jürg is co-author of 130+ scientific articles published in international peer-reviewed journals and acts as reviewer or editorial board member of different journals. Jürg is co-inventor on granted patents covering SERIs of first generation in Europe and of a second patent covering SERIs of first generation in the US. He is also an inventor of the two patent applications covering SERIs of second generation and several other patents.
In 2002, he was a co-founder of the ETH spin-off NaproMed Biopharmaceuticals. He serves as occasional consultant to the pharma industry and has several ongoing research collaborations with private companies related to analytics.
Jürg Gertsch is a co-founder of Synendos Therapeutics.