Our Team

Chief Executive Officer

Dr James Neil Phillips

Dr James Neil Phillips has joined Cellaïon SA as Chief Executive Officer and member of the board of directors. Jim is a registered physician with an MBA from Bayes Business School in London. With over 25 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry, Jim brings expertise in product development and commercialization. Previously, he was CEO of Païon AG, Managing Director of Imevax GmbH and for five years, CEO of Midatech Pharma. In Europe. He played a pivotal role as President of EUSA Pharma Europe during its key growth phase before its acquisition by Jazz Pharma in 2012. Jim was the CEO and founder of Talisker Pharma (established in 2004 and later acquired by EUSA Pharma in 2006). Additionally, he served as Chairman of Prosonix from 2007 to 2012, leading to its successful acquisition by Circassia. Prior to these roles, Dr. Phillips held senior executive positions at Johnson & Johnson and Novartis. In 2022 he founded the Sofiia Okunevska Foundation dedicated to providing medical aid and supplies to Ukraine.

Chief Scientific Officer

Mustapha NAJIMI, Ph.D.

liver treatment disease

Senior Research Associate at UCLouvain ; 27 years of experience in cell biology and expertise in isolating stem cells from tissues. Inventor of the technology and member of the founding laboratory.

Finance Director


liver disease solution

20 years of experience in operational, corporate and executive finance jobs in several industries as Biotech, construction, automotive, advertising and communication. Master degree in Economics from UCLouvain and a post-master MBA from Solvay Business School / ULB


Vice President Clinical Development

Griet GODDEMAER, PharmD.

liver therapy treatment

30 years of drug development experience in pharmaceutical and CRO companies, holding various operational and leadership functions such as Clinical Operations, Global Regulatory Affairs, Global Clinical and Ancillary Supplies and Clinical Trial start-up

Vice President Operations & CMC


cellaion saves life

20 years of experience and operational expertise in industrial manufacturing of pharmaceutical vaccines production and major food industry. He is an experienced leader driving continuous improvement with the highest quality and safety standards. In recent years, his leadership contributed to the successful accomplishment of major projects in terms of quality and robustness.

Medical Affairs Director


liver saving life therapy

10 years of experience in several hospitals in Argentina and France. Doctor of Medicine with specialization in pediatrics. Focus on rare & metabolic diseases. Specialization in Pharmacovigilance & Clinical Trial.

Director Intellectual Property


25 years of experience in the field of intellectual property, at the interface of scientific/operational services and IP agents, both in the pharmaceutical (UCB) and biotechnology industries. She joined Promethera in 2016 to manage and strengthen the IP portfolio.

Board of Directors

Philippe Pouletty, M.D.

Philippe Pouletty is a pioneer in bio/medtech. He is the inventor of 32 patents. He was awarded Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur. He has founded companies including: Abivax, Vexim, Symetis, Carbios, Affluent Medical, Caranx Medical, Artedrone, SpikImm and Carmat, in Truffle Capital’s portfolio. Dr. Pouletty holds an MD from the University of Paris VI and Master’s degrees in immunology and virology from Pasteur Institute, and in hematology from UPMC. He was chairman for 9 years of France Biotech and vice chairman for 5 years of Europabio.

Etienne Sokal, M.D, PH.D

Prof Etienne Sokal, founded Cellaïon in 2021, and was its initial CEO & CMO, He is now Chairmof the Scientific Advisory Board and Vice-Chairman of the Board. Prof Etienne Sokal MD, PhD, is paediatric hepatologist at Cliniques Universitaires St Luc, and Professor of Medicine at UCLouvain. In the 1980’s, he pioneered pediatric liver transplantation in Europe. His academic research at UCLouvain focused on liver cell and stem biology, leading to the discovery, alongside with Dr M Najimi, of liver derived stem cells (HepastemR). He has published more than 440 peer reviewed articles.

Claire Corot, PharmD., PH.D

Claire Corot joined Truffle Capital at the beginning of 2021. Claire worked at  Guerbet a World leader in medical imaging, where she was a member of the Executive Committee, former Head of Research and Innovation, specializing in imaging pharmaceuticals and interventional medical devices.. From 2013 to 2020, she was SVP of Business Development and also worked on acquisitions. Claire has the Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur, Claire has a PhD in Biotechnology from Lyon 1 University. She completed her training with a Master in Pharmaceutical Marketing at ESCP. 

Philippe De Backer, PH.D

Philippe De Backer has a PhD in Molecular Biology from VIB/Ghent University and an MBA, after he joined an early-stage life sciences VC, he became a member of the European Parliament in 2011, focusing on fund regulation and long-term investment, SME policy and industrial policy. In 2016, he became state secretary and later minister in the Belgian Federal Government. In March 2020, he was appointed by Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes to lead the federal taskforce to combat the COVID pandemic in Belgium, purchasing medical equipment and setting up testing capabilities. After this successful crisis management, he announced his return to life sciences and investing. www.newtonbiocapital.com

Caroline Thielen, PH.D

Caroline Thielen is Investment Manager – Life Sciences at S.R.I.W. (Société Régionale d’Investissement de Wallonie) and Board Member of several companies. Over the past 20 years, Caroline has experience in coordinating research projects at national and international levels. From 2013 to 2020, she has served as Chief Operating Officer of Bridge2Health, a major player in the development the healthcare sector in connection with the academic research at ULiège and CHU de Liège. Caroline holds an MSc in Biology and a PhD in Immunology from the Uni Liège, and did postdoctoral training at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, Atlanta, USA)


Fouzia Laghrissi-Thode, PH.D

Dr. Fouzia Laghrissi-Thode MD, is currently the Chief Executive Officer of DalCor Pharmaceuticals. Previously she was VP at AstraZeneca’s US Renal-Cardiology TA and led global product / portfolio strategy of the cardiovascular, metabolism and renal TAs at AstraZeneca and Roche. She is a member of the Board of Directors of Minerva Neurosciences Inc., Nuro Corp., Smart Immune and DalCor Pharmaceuticals. She is a former board member of the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA) Europe and was recognized by HBA in 2012 for her work in developing and promoting women leadership in the healthcare sector. 


Walid M.Abi-Saab, M.D.

Walid M. Abi-Saab MD has more than 20 years of experience in pharmaceutical R&D in companies such as Pfizer, AbbVie, Novartis, Shire and was Chief Medical Officer at Galapagos. He has global experience in drug development, including orphan diseases, involving direct leadership of multifunctional project teams, leadership of a portfolio of projects managed by multiple project leaders, and leadership of clinical development teams, including direct experience with study physicians. 

Tetsuya Kurihara


Partner, Shinsei Capital Partners, Ltd.
Tetsuya Kurihara joined Shinsei in 2018. Previously, he was in charge of academic-industrial alliances, VC, and biotech incubation at Bayer both in Japan and Germany. He also worked in the Investment Banking Division of Citigroup, where he provided M&A and financial advisory services to healthcare clients. Kurihara is a graduate of the University of Tokyo.

Dorothea Ledergerber, PHD. ​

Chief Technical Officer, Tigen Pharma SA
Dorothea Ledergerber is a pharmacist with more than 20 years of experience in research, development, manufacturing and supply of pharmaceutical products. She received her PhD from Saarland University, Saarbrücken, Germany.

While with Novartis, she was leading manufacturing sites in Switzerland, Germany and Ireland. A highlight in her career was the build-up and operational launch of the first commercial Cell & Gene manufacturing facility for Novartis in Europe.

In 2020, Dorothea moved on to Tigen Pharma, a Swiss biotech company in the field of autologous cell therapies to cure cancer. Tigen is a disruptive catalyst, combining a unique culture with a multidisciplinary set of clinical and technical capabilities and a long-term perspective to the benefit of patients and society.

Dorothea is a firm believer in cross-cultural and -functional teams to go beyond the beaten industry track.