Board of Directors
Co-founder & CEO
Co-founder & Board member
Roberto Della Marina
Co-founder & COO a.i.
Co-founder & CTO
Cristina Risueño Fernández
Medicinal Chemistry Lab
Head of Medicinal Chemistry Lab
Head of Biology Lab
Co-founder & Board member
Maria Letizia Barreca
Scientific Advisory Board
Medicinal chemist at University of Naples Federico II.
Former VP Drug Discovery at IRBM.
Head of Laboratory of Synthetic and Structural Vaccinology (SSV) at CIBIO, University of Trento.
Head of the Laboratory for Neurogenic Biomarkers at CIBIO, University of Trento.
Formerly senior scientist at GSK and Roche.
Head of the Laboratory for Transational Genomics and director of CIBIO at the University of Trento.
Lidia Pieri earned a Master’s degree with honors in high energy physics at CERN, a Ph.D. in theoretical astroparticle physics from Rome-3 (Italy) and an Executive MBA in Business Innovation with honors from the MIB school in Trieste. During the academic period she gained international exposure and recognition working as a research associate in several highly ranked institutes in Europe and authoring tenths of peer- reviewed papers in astrophysics, high energy physics, and computational biophysics. She proactively helped create new practices and a multidisciplinary research group, where she experienced scientific and team project management.
Driven by a never-stopping scientific passion for incoming technologies and their possible exploitation for a better future, in 2017 she played a key role in the vision and founding of Sibylla Biotech.
As a co-founder and CEO, she raised € 25.4M of VC investment, fostered and negotiated a collaboration contract with Takeda Pharmaceutical, built the business and financial plan and led the operations. Engagement and satisfaction of the employees, as well as an ethical use of strengths and competencies are among her major commitments.
Prof. Biasini received a broad education in pharmacology, biochemistry, molecular biology and neurobiology, with specific training in various aspects of neurodegenerative disorders. During his postdoctoral training at Washington University in St Louis, at the Mario Negri Institute in Milan, and later as a junior faculty at Boston University School of Medicine, he employed a variety of techniques of biochemistry and biophysics to elucidate basic principles of protein aggregation in several model systems, including cultured cell lines, primary neurons, neural stem cells and transgenic mice.
For the last 8 years, as a group leader at the Italian National Institute of Health, and later as an Associate Professor at the Department of Cellular, Computational and Integrative Biology (CIBIO), University of Trento, he built a team of young researchers with expertise in the fields of computational chemistry, biochemistry, biophysics and neurobiology. Work in the Biasini’s laboratory covers a wide spectrum of topics related to prions and amyloids, across physiology and disease, with the ultimate objective to define novel therapeutic strategies for neurodegenerative disorders.
In 2017, Prof. Biasini co-invented the PPI-FIT technology with Prof. Faccioli and co-founded Sibylla Biotech S.R.L. to exploit the commercial potential of the invention.
Roberto dalla Marina
After one decade of experience mostly in Switzerland at CERN (Geneva, CH), CSEM SA (Neuchâtel, CH) and Colibrys SA (Neuchâtel, CH), where he started working as a researcher and then moved to managerial positions, in 2003 he accepted the position of VP Business Development and Director of Technology Innovation of Olivetti I-Jet SpA (Ivrea, TO).
In 2007 he became General Manager of the Cluster in Molecular Biomedicine of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, a public-private initiative focused on linking together research centers, companies, institutions and financing bodies in the field of personalized medicine. From 2010 till 2017 he became Partner of AlAdInn Ventures Fund, Friulia Veneto Sviluppo SGR SpA, as well as Deputy Chairman of AREA Science Park – an Italian National Research body dedicated to Technology Transfer – as well as GM of Innovation Factory, its first mile company incubator.
Today he continues to serve as Board Member in several companies and foundations, among those, the Bruno Kessler Foundation in Trento, Italy. He holds a Laurea cum laude in Physics from the University of Trieste (I) and a Ph.D. in Physics from ETH Zürich (CH), is co-author of more than hundred scientific papers and he keeps teaching finance and innovation in some universities and institutions in Italy. In 2015 he won the AIFI-EY “Claudio Dematté Price – Private Equity of the Year” for the best Italian Early Stage operation.
Ward Capoen is Partner at V-Bio Ventures, which he joined in 2016. Before joining V-Bio, Ward spent over a decade doing molecular biology research at VIB (BE), the John Innes Centre (UK) and Harvard Medical School (USA). His expertise spans both plant and animal models and ranges from fundamental to translational research. Prior to V-Bio Ventures, Ward worked as a senior analyst at Candriam Investors Group, where he was responsible for investment analysis of early-stage listed biotech companies.
Ward holds a PhD in Biotechnology from the University of Gent (BE). He also has an MBA from Vlerick Business School (BE).
Bruno Montanari is a Partner at Seroba. He has a background in venture capital and in investment banking, with a focus on the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device industries.
Bruno graduated in 1998 with a PharmD. from the Université René Descartes, Paris V and in the same year completed a Master’s degree in Strategic Management at HEC.
Prior to joining the firm in 2017, Bruno was a Partner at Omnes Capital (Paris) in charge of life sciences investments for the venture capital team. His previous venture capital experience was at Atlas Venture (Paris/London) and CDP Capital (Paris/Montreal). He started his career in 1999 in London, in the healthcare teams of the investment banking divisions of Deutsche Bank and later Merrill Lynch. Bruno brings a wealth of experience and network, particularly in continental Europe, where he is based.
Bruno sits on the boards of Coave Therapeutics, STORM Therapeutics, and Sibylla Biotech.
Marianne joined 3B Future Health Fund in 2018 and was promoted to Partner in 2022. She has more than 15 years experience in research and early stage investment. Prior to joining 3B Future Health, Marianne worked as a researcher for the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS). She is a former Marie Curie Early-Stage Researcher and was awarded the AXA Prize from the French Academy of Science in 2014.
Marianne received an M.Sc. in Molecular Biology from the University of Bergen in Norway, a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Nice in France and an MBA from the IAE Nice Graduate School of Management, France.
She is a former board member of Gain Therapeutics Inc [GANX] and currently serves on the board of NeoPhore Ltd, GenEp Inc. and Sibylla Biotech
Ciro Spedaliere is co-founder and managing partner at Claris Ventures SGR, the first Italian venture capital fund focused exclusively on biotech, investing in high potential biopharma companies arisen from the Italian R&D ecosystem – both local and international. He has a decade long experience in the venture capital investing across the main innovation sectors throughout his career (Innogest SGR, LVenture Group, Invitalia Ventures SGR, Vertis SGR).
In the past, he worked as a product manager dealing with strategic planning, development of innovative products and services. He has also collaborated with the academic world on venture investing issues and teaches venture capital and innovation topics at some universities in Italy. Ciro holds a degree in Management Engineering from the Polytechnic University of Turin and has earned his specialization at the Venture Capital Executive Program at the Berkeley Haas Business School.
Giovanni Spagnolli earned a Master’s degree in Cellular and Molecular Biotechnology (110/110 Cum Laude) and a Ph.D. in Biomolecular Sciences (Best Ph.D. student, CIBIO 33rd Cycle) at the University of Trento. During his doctoral research, he worked on developing and validating the PPI-FIT technology by applying it to the cellular prion
protein. This study led to the discovery of the first small molecule degrader acting by targeting a protein folding intermediate. Concurrently, he worked on applying enhanced sampling molecular dynamics simulation techniques to achieve atomic-level characterization of the prion propagation mechanism. His thesis work and additional contributions to different multidisciplinary projects were acknowledged in more than 10 peer-reviewed publications, including research articles, reviews, and a book chapter.
As CTO of Sibylla Biotech, Giovanni leads the R&D and pipeline activities of the computational team and the biology laboratory. He is also involved in the company fundraising and directly contributed to the raise of the latest € 23M Series A round.
Dr. Massignan received a broad education in biochemistry and neurobiology, with specific expertise in various aspects of neurodegenerative disorders. Between 2005 and 2010, as a Ph.D. student in Neuroscience at The Open University of London (UK), she investigated the impact on cellular homeostasis of a mutant form of the cellular prion protein (PrPC). This work generated the first experimental evidence about the existence of a specific cytotoxic feedback loop initiated by the intracellular accumulation of mutant PrP molecules.
Between 2006 and 2007, as part of her Ph.D. training, Dr. Massignan visited the laboratory of Prof. David A. Harris at Washington University in St Louis, where she continued to study prion diseases by characterizing the neurotoxicity of another PrP mutant, called ΔCR, which causes neonatal lethality in transgenic mice. Her research identified a specific cytotoxic effect of the ΔCR protein and defined a completely novel cellular assay (DBCA) for studying the toxicity of mutant forms of PrP. In 2010, Dr. Massignan was recruited as a post-doctoral fellow at Boston University School of Medicine.
Her project employed the DBCA as a primary assay to carry out a large drug screening campaign aimed at identifying small molecules capable of suppressing mutant PrP toxicity. This work led to the identification of a number of candidate anti-prion compounds currently under investigation and development. For such an achievement, Dr. Massignan received the Bioeconomy Award 2014.
Since 2015, sponsored by fellowships from the Fondazione Veronesi and the Telethon Foundation, Dr. Massignan joined as a Senior Scientist at the Laboratory of Prions & Amyloids at the Department of CIBIO, University of Trento. Her current research covers a broad spectrum of topics related to prions and amyloids but maintains the ultimate objective of defining novel therapeutic strategies for neurodegenerative disorders.
Dr. Bonifati’s scientific expertise lies at the interface between cancer biology and virology. She completed her Ph.D. in 2014 at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg, Germany, where she worked on the development of novel anti-cancer strategies based on the oncolytic virus H-1PV. In 2015, she moved to the US to perform her post-doctoral training at the Ohio State University in Columbus.
In the past 5 years, her research has focused on elucidating the mechanisms of pathogenesis of retroviruses, particularly HIV-1 and HTLV-1. Her work contributed to the characterization of the molecular mechanisms by which the cellular restriction factor SAMHD1 controls innate immune responses to viral infections and inflammatory stimuli.
In her 8+ years of research experience in diverse therapeutic areas, including oncology, immunology, and virology, dr. Bonifati gained extensive expertise in various cellular and molecular biology techniques.
Laura Copat earned a Bachelor of Science at the University of Trento and a Master of Science in Molecular and Medical Biotechnology at the University of Verona.
During her bachelor’s internship, Laura was involved in a project related to discovering compounds acting with the PPI-FIT mechanism of action. In particular, she worked on the synthesis, purification, characterization, and cell-based testing of small molecules inducing the degradation of the cellular prion protein. This study was conducted in a collaborative research project involving the Laboratory of Bioorganic Chemistry and the Dulbecco Telethon Laboratory of Prions and Amyloids at the University of Trento.
During her master’s thesis internship, Laura investigated the role of the folding pathway in the regulation of protein turnover. In particular, she studied the effect of post-translational modifications predicted to occur in non-native conformations.
Laura has, therefore, gained knowledge of molecular biology techniques and hands-on experience in organic and analytical chemistry.
At Sibylla, Laura is now focusing on automatizing and scaling up high-throughput screening assays.
Andrea Astolfi received MSc degree in Pharmaceutical Biotechnologies (110/110 cum laude) in 2014 from University of Perugia where it was awarded as one of the best graduate students. In 2018, at the same University, he earned a PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences. His PhD thesis work received the national award as the best PhD thesis in Medicinal Chemistry organized by Società Chimica Italiana (SCI) and the international Paul Ehrich MedChem Euro-PhD Network certificate for the excellence.
Along these years Andrea Astolfi acquired a strong experience in the application of computer-aided drug discovery (CADD) methodologies, both structure-based and ligand-based, spanning from protein structure analysis the design of virtual screening workflows.
This experience perfectly fit and integrate the multidisciplinary nature of the Sibylla Biotech S.R.L research pipeline.
Alberto Boldrini has a degree in Physics with a master in Quantitative and Computational Biology. His background combined with the interest in mathematics and computer science has allowed him to accumulate a wide experience in all the fields in which Sibylla Biotech focuses.
In particular, during his internship he tackled the protein folding problem employing molecular dynamics simulations and enanched sampling techniques at the University of Trento.
His strong experience in statistical mechanics, software development, data analysis and high performance computing makes him a key people in Sibylla multidisciplinary staff. He takes care of the development and innovation of our computational platform. He is also in charge of administering of the computing resources.
Luca Terruzzi graduated in Computer Science at the University of Trento, consolidating his knowledge about programming techniques and software design and development. To pursue his idea of exploring new areas in which to apply his expertise, he continued his education receiving a Master of Science degree in Quantitative and Computational Biology at the University of Trento, with particular focus on the field of biophysics.
These studies coupled with Luca’s passion gave him an interdisciplinary background in the fields of mathematics, physics, biology and computer science. He applied this knowledge during his internship and thesis work at the departments of Physics and Cellular, Computational and Integrative Biology (CIBIO), University of Trento. This experience allowed him to deepen his understanding of advanced Molecular Dynamics techniques and data analysis tools, applied to the protein folding problem.
The multidisciplinary nature of his education with a strong computer science background make him a perfect choice for the cross-disciplinary research staff at Sibylla Biotech S.p.A.
Enrica Colasurdo graduated in Physics at the University of Trento. Her passion for computer science and data analysis led her to approach computational studies in the field of biophysics during the Master in Quantitative and Computational Biology, gaining experience with molecular dynamics and enhanced sampling techniques applied to the protein folding problem.
Cristina Risueño Fernández
Cristina Risueño holds a bachelor’s degree in Biotechnology (Universidad Europea, Spain, 2015), a master’s degree in Industrial Biotechnology (Universidad Complutense, Spain, 2017), and a PhD in Molecular Biology and Biomedicine (Universidad del Pais Vasco, Spain, 2021).
During her doctoral studies, she aimed at understanding the biophysical mechanisms that make proteins respond to changes in pH. Her acquired experience in molecular dynamics simulations and other biophysical techniques (i.e. protein crystallography), combined with her background in biotechnology and biotechnological processes, makes her a good fit for the Sibylla’s Biotech team. Her multidisciplinary experience allows her to provide a holistic view about the challenges of developing new therapies implementing Sibylla’s technology.
Alexandros Patsilinakos holds a master’s degree in Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Technology and a Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Sciences at Sapienza – University of Rome. His background encompasses ligand-based and structure-based drug design, ab initio quantum chemistry and machine learning.
During his 10+ years of experience in academia and the pharmaceutical industry, Alexandros has developed a deep knowledge of molecular modeling, cheminformatics, and bioinformatics applied to drug discovery. In addition, he also has hands-on experience in entrepreneurship, with a past as company CTO.
His work is focused on developing and applying computational methods for predicting biological and physicochemical properties, the design of chemical libraries, the exploration of the chemical space, ADMET in silico models and AI-enabled workflows to accelerate hit identification and lead optimization.
Alexandros holds a rich academic record, with 20+ peer-reviewed publications and numerous attendances to international conferences, where he strengthened a network of academic and industry collaborations.
Leda Bencheva obtained an MSc in Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Technology followed by a PhD in “Design, synthesis and characterization of bioactive molecules” from the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia in Italy. During her 15 years of career as both synthetic and medicinal chemist, she gained an interdisciplinary background and detailed on-the-job knowledge of the modern drug discovery process, a deep understanding of biological aspects and DMPK.
In addition, she also acquired hands-on experience in patent writing, Markush structure design and patent busting.
Leda has made fundamental contributions to 6 patents, and her thorough work resulted in several publications.
Her work is focused on the early phase drug discovery process, PK profiling, PK/PD analysis and formulation development.
Dr. Gioia earned a master’s degree in Biology for Molecular, Cellular and Pathophysiological Research at Roma Tre University. She studied adult hippocampal neurogenesis, regulation of cell cycle, and neuronal differentiation in cellular and mouse models as a master student and as an intern at the Institute of Cell Biology and Neurobiology (IBCN) of the National Research Council (CRN) of Rome. In 2021, she completed her Ph.D. in “Cell and Developmental Biology” at Sapienza University of Rome. Between 2018 and 2021, she investigated neural stem cell properties and neurogenesis in a mice model carrying an autism-associated mutation, this study led to her fifth peer-reviewed publication. In 2021, she moved to perform her post-doctoral training at the Department of CIBIO, University of Trento. Her research has focused on elucidating the physiological role and the functional characterization of the protein Negr1, linked to neuropsychiatric diseases. During her 7+ years of experience, dr. Gioia gained expertise in various molecular biology and immunofluorescence techniques but also obtained extensive knowledge of cellular biology and in vivo modelling.
Maria Letizia Barreca
Prof. Barreca has 25-years of experience in the field of medicinal chemistry and drug discovery, and her main topics include infectious, neurodegenerative, and inflammatory diseases, and more recently cancer. She started her career at the University of Messina, where she founded a research laboratory in the field of computational chemistry applied to drug discovery. In 2000−2001 Prof. Barreca was Visiting Scientist at the University of Houston and in 2007 she moved to the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences of University of Perugia, where she set up and led the I2D Lab (In silico Drug Discovery Laboratory) and is now Associate Professor.
She has successfully collaborated on different multidisciplinary national and international projects where she made a crucial contribution to the rational identification of small molecules possessing the desired biological activity. Prof. Barreca has received awards and acknowledgments for her scientific activity, including the prestigious “Best Young Researcher in Medicinal Chemistry” by the Italian Chemical Society (Farmindustria Prize). She is also a medchem consultant for two global healthcare companies (this consultancy is privileged and confidential)
Prof. Barreca has identified the bioactive small molecules which validated the innovative drug discovery protocol exploited by Sibylla Biotech S.R.L., which she co-founded in 2017.
Pietro Faccioli received his PhD in physics from Stony Brook University (USA) with a thesis in theoretical subnuclear physics. Later, he became a postdoctoral fellow at the European Centre for Nuclear Physics and Related Areas. In 2005, at the age of 30, he was permanently hired by University of Trento, where he is now Associate Professor and PI of a scientific initiative in biophysics of the Trento Institute for Nuclear and Subnuclear Physics (INFN-TIFPA).
In 2005 he realized that a specific mathematical formalism used in subatomic physics could be adapted and extended in order to represent rare conformational transitions of macromolecules. This observation led to the creation of an interdisciplinary research line aiming at investigating the dynamics of biological molecules. In over 15 years of dedicated research, his group developed, validated and applied new powerful algorithms, which made it possible for the first time to simulate the folding of proteins consisting of hundreds of amino acids, using state of the art atomically resolved models.
This combination of mathematical and computational methods provided the driving technology paving the way to co-inventing a new approach to rational drug discovery. In 2017, he co-founded Sibylla Biotech S.R.L. to exploit the commercial potential of this invention.
In recent years, he has started a new research endeavor aiming at developing a new generation of molecular simulation methods based on integrating statistical mechanics, chemical modeling, and artificial intelligence with quantum computing.
Prof. Lolli started his scientific career in the field of Protein Chemistry and Proteomics to move then to Biophysical Chemistry and X-ray Crystallography.
His research activities focused on oncogenic proteins and epigenetics, participating in or directing drug development campaigns both in pharmaceutical companies and in academia. His multifaceted experience matured in highly competitive and production-driven environments having been employed by Pharmacia Corporation, University of Oxford, Merck&co., University of Padua and University of Zurich, in chronological order. The excellence of his work was recognized by the Federation of the European Biochemical Societies with the Distinguished Young Investigator Award. He currently directs a research team at the Dept. of Cellular, Computational and Integrative Biology, University of Trento, where he is Assistant Professor, developing novel drug candidates inhibiting protein kinases and bromodomains with a clear role in the pathogenesis of cancer, inflammation and neurodegenerative diseases. The laboratory employs a complete set of biochemical, biophysical and structural techniques.
His interest in fully exploring the targetable space drove its decision of founding Sibylla Biotech S.R.L., where the structure-based approach will profit from the revolutionary target identification protocol.
Letizia Lazzaro obtained a master’s degree in chemistry specializing in physical chemistry from La Sapienza – University of Rome. During her 10+ years scientific career in industry, she worked at Eurofins S.p.A. as an analyst of raw material and final drugs, taking care of the development and validation of GMP analytical methods, then she moved to “Centro Sviluppo Materiali” working as Researcher first, in the chemistry lab, and then in the Surface Treatments and Corrosion department. In the last 8 years, she has been involved in several projects as Compound Manager supervisor in the Medicinal Chemistry and Peptide units at IRBM S.p.A, increasing her interdisciplinary background in drug discovery. In particular, she managed the internal compound collection (more than 320K compounds) and its enrichment based on analysis of the chemical space and physicochemical properties for the selection of new compounds and coordinated all the related activities from compound QC, data management, purifications of finals compounds/peptides, sample preparation, distributions, orders, and purchases.
Sophie El-Hayek has a bachelor of science in bioinformatics (Lebanese American University – Byblos, Lebanon).
Her scientific background and interest in solving complex strategic and business challenges led her to an internship at Hoffman-La Roche. There, she got familiar with the frameworks for strategic initiatives and commercialization planning activities of medications in their neuropsychiatric portfolio. Also, her passion for driving innovative research and medical advances drove her to another internship at Orobix Life, where she investigated artificial intelligence and machine learning applications in drug discovery and development. In this context, Sophie was involved in testing unsupervised learning approaches for patient stratification for precision medicine.
She is curious, ambitious, willing to learn and invest in her growth, and a team player that enjoys connecting with others and collaborating.