We are a team of seasoned scientists and drug developers dedicated to improving the lives of patients affected by neurodegenerative diseases.
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Dirk Beher (Ph.D.)Chief Executive Officer & Founder
Anna Quattropani (Ph.D.)Senior Vice President & Head of Non-Clinical Development and Medicinal Chemistry
Bruno Permanne (Ph.D)Senior Director & Head of Biology
Dr. Thomas C. Wessel (M.D, PhD)Chief Medical Officer
Rolf Pokorny (M.D. M.Sc. Ph.D.)Head of Clinical Development
Colin Kahrs (PhD)Head of Intellectual Property
Manfred SchneiderHead of ADME and Toxicology
Dirk Beher (Ph.D.)
Dirk Beher is the Chief Executive Officer, a Founder and a Member of the Board of Directors of Asceneuron SA. Since its inception he has strategically positioned Asceneuron as an emerging leader in the field of orally bioavailable drugs for treating tauopathies. Under his leadership the company has raised to date over CHF 40 million from leading venture capital firms and successfully moved a novel modifier of tau pathology into the clinic.
Dirk brings more than 25 years of experience in the field of Alzheimer's disease / neurodegeneration and spent over 19 years in pharmaceutical drug discovery including senior research positions around the globe at Merck Sharp & Dohme (Merck & Co.), Amgen and Merck KGaA. Dirk holds a Ph.D. and a Diploma (M.S.) in Biology from the Ruprecht-Karls University Heidelberg, Germany. He is an inventor of seven patents and author of 50 peer-reviewed publications and reviews.
Anna Quattropani (Ph.D.)
Anna Quattropani is the Head of Non-Clinical Development and Medicinal Chemistry. She is responsible for all non-clinical development activities including medicinal chemistry, chemistry, manufacturing and controls (CMC), ADME, early safety pharmacology and toxicology. She also manages the small molecule intellectual property portfolio of the company.
Anna is an experienced Medicinal Chemist with more than 18 years of experience and a successful track record in the design and optimization of small molecules originating from high throughput screening, fragment discovery and knowledge-based design into drug candidates. During the past ten years, she has been working on a variety of neurodegenerative disease projects, designing and optimizing drug-like small molecules with CNS exposure for multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease and orphan tauopathies such as progressive supranuclear palsy.
Anna is inventor of several clinical molecules such as the O-GlcNAcase inhibitor ASN120290 for progressive supranuclear palsy and the oxytocin receptor antagonist Nolasiban that has entered Phase 3 clinical studies. Anna obtained her Ph.D. and M.S. in organic synthesis and organometallic chemistry at University of Geneva, Switzerland. She is the inventor of 34 patents and the author of 20 peer-reviewed publications.
Bruno Permanne (Ph.D)
Bruno Permanne is the Head of Biology at Asceneuron. He is responsible for planning and supervision of assay development and pharmacology activities. Bruno is a neurobiologist with over 15 years of experience in drug discovery programs on neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and tauopathies). At Asceneuron he focuses on the O-GlcNAcase inhibitor program and biomarker development. Previously he was a project team leader at Merck Serono, Switzerland, where he successfully ran early discovery programs resulting in the progression of small molecules from high-throughput screens to lead optimization stage. Bruno obtained his PhD in biochemistry at the University of Lille under the co-supervision of Drs Andre Delacourte and Luc Buée. Subsequently he joined the laboratory of Professor Blas Frangione at the NYU Medical Center, USA, as a postdoc. Both groups are internationally recognized for their work on the pathophysiology of the tau protein and amyloidogenesis in neurodegenerative diseases. He is the author of 13 peer-reviewed publications.
Dr. Thomas C. Wessel (M.D, PhD)
Tom leads all regulatory and clinical development activities at Asceneuron. Tom joins Asceneuron from Boston-based Flex Pharma, Inc. (NASDAQ: FLKS), where he was Chief Medical Officer. Tom is a board-certified neurologist with extensive drug development experience, including being the medical lead for three CNS products approved in the United States: Razadyne®, Lunesta® and Ampyra®. Prior to Flex Pharma, Tom was the Chief Medical Officer at Acorda Therapeutics, Senior Vice President of Clinical Research at Sepracor, and worked on several CNS projects at Janssen Pharmaceutica in Europe and the United States.
Tom received his MD from the Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich and his PhD in experimental neurobiology at the Max-Planck-Institute for Psychiatry in Martinsried, Germany. He completed his residency in neurology at New York Hospital and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (Cornell University Medical Center) where he remained on the faculty for several years as an Instructor and Assistant Professor before joining the industry.
Rolf Pokorny (M.D. M.Sc. Ph.D.)
Rolf Pokorny is the Head of Clinical Development at Asceneuron.
With over 30 years of Central Nervous System (CNS) clinical research and clinical pharmacology experience especially in early phases of drug development, Rolf is supporting our management team in advancing Asceneuron’s pipeline of innovative small molecules and progressing tau modifiers through the clinic.
Colin Kahrs (PhD)
Colin Kahrs is the Head of Intellectual Property at Asceneuron.
With over 20 years of experience in intellectual property for the pharmaceutical and chemical industry, Colin provides essential input to Asceneuron's strategy to protect its small molecule pipeline assets and supports the company in the management of its intellectual property portfolio.
Manfred joined Asceneuron in 2013 as an expert consultant in drug metabolism, pharmacokinetics and toxicology (ADME/PK/TOX) to guide optimization of drug-like properties in early stages of drug discovery as well as to support non-clinical (IND-enabling safety pharmacology & toxicology) and clinical bioanalytics and PKPD. He was instrumental in the early discovery of our clinical lead ASN120290 and its clinical development up to Phase 2.
Manfred has almost 20 years of international experience in his field and is board-certified toxicologist (US) since 2004. Between 2006 and 2012 he held positions as Head of DMPK & Toxicology at Addex Therapeutics and Head of early ADME at Merck Serono (Geneva, Switzerland). Prior to this he worked for 10 years in the United States at Forest Laboratories (New York City) and at Tularik (now Amgen; South San Francisco) following a toxicology postdoc at the University of California at Berkeley. In 1996 he received his PhD in Analytical Chemistry and Toxicology from the University of Ulm, Germany. Manfred is author of 19 peer-reviewed publications.