Who we are

We are a team of biotechnology entrepreneurs, physicians and highly talented scientists in the field of liver diseases and cell-based regenerative medicine

Cellaïon is a Belgian biotechnology company developing advanced therapies to repair tissues and regenerate organs, particularly the liver. Cellaïon targets life-threatening diseases.

We are located in the biotechnology valley of the Walloon region in Belgium.

We are a team of biotechnology entrepreneurs, physicians and highly talented scientists in the field of liver diseases and cell-based regenerative medicine.

Our strong intellectual property assets stem from our own research and from academic research at UCLouvain, aimed at generating new therapeutic products. The current portfolio offers intellectual property protection for our lead compound HepaStem® and its uses beyond 2040.

Our lead product, HepaStem®, is in advanced-stage clinical development in acute-on-chronic liver failure (ACLF), a life-threatening condition affecting more than 100,000 patients worldwide each year.

The liver has an immense capacity for regeneration, but this process is often overwhelmed by ongoing disease and tissue inflammation, leading to functional degradation of the organ and impairment of the regenerative process.

We, at Cellaïon, are developing HepaStem® with the aim of boosting the regenerative process and supporting the survival of the failing native liver.

HepaStem® has unique anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory and regenerative properties. It is administered by a simple intravenous infusion.

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Our Team

Chief Executive Officer

Etienne SOKAL, M.D., Ph.D.

cellaion saves life liver disease

20 years in Biotech and pharma industry consultancy as advisory board member, CSO, CMO, CEO. > 30 years of experience in the field of hepatology and liver transplantation. Inventor of the technology



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

Director Clinical Operations

Virginie BARTHEL

liver treatment

15 years of experience and collaboration in clinical operations both in CRO and biotech companies with various operational functions such as CRA, Clinical Project Manager and leadership positions. She joined the Team in 2016 to start the clinical development of new indications.


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.



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.

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Board of Directors

Philippe pouletty, M.D.

Philippe Pouletty is a pioneer in biotechnology and medical devices with experience gained in both France and Silicon Valley. He is the inventor of 32 patents, including the second most lucrative patent in life sciences for Stanford University, which earned him a place in the prestigious Stanford University Hall of Fame of Inventors in 2012. He was also awarded Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur. He is the founder or co-founder of MedTech, BioTech and BioEcotech , including Abivax, Vexim, Symetis, Carbios, Affluent Medical, Caranx Medical, Artedrone, SpikImm and Carmat, all of which are Truffle Capital portfolio companies. A former hematology and immunology resident in Paris hospitals, Dr. Pouletty holds an MD from the University of Paris VI and Master’s degrees in immunology (ranked first in this elite master) and virology from Pasteur Institute, and in hematology from UPMC. He was a post-doctoral research fellow (1986-1988) at Stanford University, and the 1999 laureate of the American Liver Foundation. He was chairman for 9 years of France Biotech and vice chairman for 5 years of Europabio. He conceived the status of Young Innovative Enterprise (JEI) implemented by the French government.

Etienne sokal, M.D, ph.d

Prof. Etienne Sokal is CEO of Cellaïon and inventor of the technology. He has over 20 years of experience in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry as an advisory board member, CSO, CMO, CEO, and > 30 years of expertise in the field of hepatology, liver transplantation, clinical and translational research.

Claire COROT, PharmD., PH.D

Claire Corot joined Truffle Capital at the beginning of 2021. Claire joined Guerbet 35 years ago after completing her hospital and university training. She has spent her entire professional career with this pharmaceutical group, 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. At Guerbet, Claire was Senior Vice President, Research and Innovation. She worked primarily in the fields of oncology, neurology, cardiology, contrast media, interventional imaging, CT, MRI, nuclear medicine, ultrasound, optical and molecular imaging. She managed a research portfolio of pharmaceutical contrast agents, several of which have passed the clinical stages. She was also in charge of medical devices, some of which have obtained the CE marking. From 2013 to 2020, she was Senior Vice President of Business Development and Licensing and worked on acquisitions of up to $270 million. Claire has been awarded the Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur designation and has been a guest lecturer at Stanford University as a leading expert in her field. Claire obtained her degree in Biology Pharm D from Lyon 1 University in 1980, then her PhD in Biotechnology in 1990, also from Lyon 1 University. She completed her training with a Master in Pharmaceutical Marketing at ESCP in 2005 followed by a negotiation course also at ESCP in 2007 and a Business Strategy course at HEC in 2015. www.truffle.com

Philippe de backer, ph.d

Philippe De Backer obtained a PhD in Molecular Biology from VIB/Ghent University and an MBA from Solvay Business School, after which he joined an early-stage life sciences VC, where he met both Alain Parthoens and Jean-Claude Deschamps, CEO and Chairman Emeritus and Advisor to the Board of Newton Biocapital, respectively. 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 currently Investment Manager – Life Sciences at S.R.I.W. (Société Régionale d’Investissement de Wallonie) and Board Member of several biotech and medtech companies. Over the past 20 years, Caroline has gained solid 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 and reinforcement of the healthcare sector in connection with the academic research at ULiège and CHU de Liège. Caroline holds a Master’s degree in Biology and a PhD in Immunology from the University of Liège completed by a postdoctoral training at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, Atlanta, USA) www.sriw.be

fouzia laghrissi-thode, PH.D

Dr. Fouzia Laghrissi-Thode, is currently the Chief Executive Officer of DalCor Pharmaceuticals. In her previous roles, she was Vice-President at AstraZeneca’s US Renal-Cardiology Therapeutic Area and led global product and portfolio strategy of the cardiovascular, metabolism and renal therapeutic areas at AstraZeneca and Roche. She has more than 20 years of management experience in the pharmaceutical industry in the US and Europe, in the fields of clinical development, global strategic marketing, business development, licensing and M&A. 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. From 1992 to 2014, she was a faculty member at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, UPMC, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic. Dr. Laghrissi-Thode is board-certified in psychiatry and holds an MD from the University of Tours School of Medicine, France.

walid m.abi-saab, M.D.

Walid M. Abi-Saab is a senior executive physician with more than 20 years of experience in pharmaceutical R&D in medium and large size companies such as Pfizer, AbbVie, Novartis, Shire and was Chief Medical Officer at Galapagos. He has global (US and International) 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. Dr. Abi-Saab holds an MD from University St Joseph, Beirut, Lebanon. He completed his residency in psychiatry and his fellowship in neuroscience at Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA.



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.

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