Our team

Management Team

Carles Domènech, PhD

Executive Chairman, CSO and co-Founder

Carles obtained a BSs/MSc degree in biology (first class honors) from the Autonomous University of Barcelona and also a PhD degree in cellular biology from the same University, working at the Council of Science Research (CSIC). He has additional business training at ESADE business school and other business programs.

After his career in CSIC in Barcelona (1985-89) and at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York (1990-1992), he held senior positions at  Almirall, SA (1992-2003) as Manager and Head of Business Development and Licensing and Lacer, SA (2005-2007) as Director, Business Development and Licensing.

Carles has also 4 years experience in biotech venture capital and business angels associations and has also been collaborating with government innovation agencies. Between 2004 and 2005 he was Director, Biotech Investments at the seed venture capital firm Barcelona Emprèn, SCRSA. During 2008-2009 he collaborated with agencies of the Government of Catalonia as Director, Technology Transfer and Valorization and as Managing Director, Investment and Enterprise Growth. He had under his responsibility the seed venture capital company Invertec, SA and the entrepreneurship finance programs Genesis Capital and Concept Capital. Since July 2009 he also advises Keiretsu Forum Barcelona in biotech investments.

In 2009 Carles cofounded Ability Pharmaceuticals, SL to become its Chief Executive Officer in September 2009

Stephan Hecking, PhD

Chief Financial Officer (CFO)

Stephan holds a Business Administration degree (Dipl-Kfm. univ.) from the University of Passau (Germany). He obtained his PhD degree in Start-up, Strategy and Management from the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB).
After 20 years as CFO and Executive Board Member of multinational company subsidiaries (Southern Europe and LATAM), in 2014 he decided to offer his services as (external) part-time CFO and financial consultant to advanced start-ups in Barcelona.
Stephan worked for Ability Pharma as external consultant for more than a year before joining the company as CFO in June 2020.

José Alfón, PhD

VP, Research & Development

José holds a BSc degree in pharmacy and a MSc degree in pharmaceutical sciences from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His MSc thesis was done under the supervision of a well recognized expert on pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics. He obtained his PhD degree in pharmacology at the University of Barcelona, working in the CSIC under the supervision of Dr. Lina Badimon who is worldwide recognized expert on thrombosis and atherosclerosis.

José worked for 12 years at the Barcelona pharmaceutical company J. Uriach y Cia, SA (and later at its spin-off Palau Pharma, SA). There, he led for eight years (1999-2007) a group of scientists in the Discovery Department that was involved in the optimization and candidate selection of drugs working on different targets. For an additional period of four years (2007-2010) he led a Drug Development program, all the way from preclinical to Phase II Clinical Trials with a drug with a novel mechanism of action, with other Big Pharma in the playground, which became a first-in-class drug.

José has been Associate Professor of Pharmacology at the Autonomous University of Barcelona and currently collaborates in the Master Degree of Pharmacology. He has published 15 articles in peer-reviewed journals and of 40 abstracts in scientific meetings.

In 2010 José joined Ability Pharmaceuticals, SL as Vice-President, Research and Development.

Gemma Fierro

VP, Clinical & Regulatory Affairs

Gemma obtained a BSc degree in Pharmacy from the University of Barcelona and a Master degree in European Regulatory Affairs from the Autonomous University of Barcelona.

Gemma has a broad experience in the regulatory area acquired in several pharmaceutical companies. She started  at Lacer, S.A., from 1990 to 1993, as Regulatory Affairs manager. From 1993 to 1997, she worked at Merck Farma y Química as Senior Regulatory Affais manager. From 1998 to 2004, she was Head of Regulatory Affairs at Laboratorios Vita, S.A.

Then, with the acquisition of Grupo Vita by Procter & Gamble in 2004, she became Regulatory Affairs Director for Spain and Portugal,  assuming additional responsibilities in pharmacovigilance until 2009. After the acquisition from Warner Chilcott, Gemma assumed the regulatory responsibilities for all European countries from 2009 to 2012. After that, Gemma was appointed as Head of Regulatory Affairs in Bayer Hispania, SL, from 2012 to 2014, assuming responsibilities in clinical trials submissions as well.

Gemma joined Ability Pharma in 2015 as Clinical & Regulatory Affairs VP.

Vanessa Ruz

VP, Finance and Administration

Vanessa obtained a degree in economics (BEc/MEc) at the Pompeu Fabra University of Barcelona. She specialized in business administration.

Vanessa collaborates with Ability Pharmaceuticals since 2010. Prior to joining the company, for 2 years she was the Chief Financial Officer of Sevibe Cells, a health services company specializing in the preservation of stem cells derived from umbilical cords.

Yolanda Soler

Clinical Operations Manager

Yolanda Obtained a degree in Pharmacy from the University of Barcelona and a Master in Marketing direction in EADA.
She has 21 years of experience in coordinating the whole process of implementation, commissioning, and closure of clinical trials from phase 1 to phase 4, in different therapeutic areas in Merck Sharp and Dohme. She was involved in clinical site management and monitoring activities in compliance with principles of ICH-GCP guidelines, SOPs, local laws and regulations, study protocol(s), applicable study plans and working guidelines.
Since 2013, she was responsible to organizing and managing the Clinical Operations Department ensuring good quality in all processes of clinical trials in Recerca Clinica SL. She served as the primary project contact with the client and leaded and managed cross-functional project teams. She was also responsible of the preparation and trial submission to the Ethics Committees/Institutional Review Boards and Competent Authorities, in collaboration with involved in-house functions and CRO, if applicable.
Yolanda joined Ability Pharma in July 2020 as a Clinical Operations Manager.

Marc Cortal, MD

Director, Clinical Research

Marc obtained his degree in Medicine and Surgery at the University of Barcelona in 1993. He started his medical activities as a volunteer at the refugee’s camps of the former Yugoslavia. In 1994 he moved to London (UK) where he participated in different clinical practices at the Vascular Surgery Department of Saint Mary’s Hospital and at the Accident and Emergency Department of the Middlesex Hospital. In 1995 became a consultant at the Accident and Emergency Department of Hillingdon Hospital. In 1996 moved to Switzerland entering in the International Committee of the Red Cross where learnt about laws of war and international conflicts and was finally sent to the civil conflict in Peru as a medical delegate to organize medical services.

In 1998 moved back to Barcelona to perform different jobs as a medical doctor at the Public and Private Health Services, on the Emergency, Orthopedics and work medicine, starting also medical management at hospitals and insurance companies, as well as organizing clinical trials to develop new therapeutic molecules in oncology as a clinical investigator.

In 1994 Marc had an International Law of War training in Geneva, Switzerland. After that, he obtained a Master’s degree in Tropical Medicine at the University of Barcelona (1998), a Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health in Les Heures University, Barcelona (2003) and a Master in Innovation by the School of Industrial Organization of Madrid, Madrid (2013); Lastly, he pursued an ICSR (Individual Case Safety Reports) Course, management and processing of communications to the European Medicines Agency, London (2014).

Marc joined Ability Pharmaceuticals SL as a Director of Clinical Research in 2012. 

Héctor Pérez-Montoyo, PhD

Director, Biological Research and Project Management

Héctor obtained his BSc degree in Biology in 2005 and his Ph.D. in Biology in 2010 at University of Alicante. In 2006 he moved to University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas (EEUU), to start his career developing novel therapeutic antibodies in murine models of human autoimmune diseases and under the supervision of Dr. Sally E. Ward, a worldwide outstanding investigator in the field of autoimmune diseases and cancer.

After obtaining his Ph.D., he combined two postdoctoral grants in Barcelona (Metastasis and Transformation group in Bellvitge Biomedical Research Center - IDIBELL) and in Valencia (Autoimmune Pathology Lab in Principe Felipe Research Center). In between, he worked as a coordinator of an animal experimentation laboratory from a private company, developing novel therapeutic agents for autoimmune diseases and cancer.

During the 10 years of experience accumulated, animal research has characterized most of his work, accumulating large experience working with a large panel of murine models of different autoimmune diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis or Rheumatoid Arthritis, and in cancer, including the “Patient Derived OrthoXenograft” technique. His work always focused in understanding the molecular pathophysiological mechanisms leading to autoimmunity and cancer development, investigating mechanism of action of newly developed molecules to treat such diseases. He has collaborated in the publication of several articles in peer reviewed journals, abstracts in scientific meetings and patents.

In 2015 Héctor joined Ability Pharmaceuticals SL as a Director of Biological Research.

Marc Yeste-Velasco, PhD

Director, Translational Research and Scientific Licensing

Marc obtained a BSc degree, a MSc degree in experimental biochemistry and a PhD degree in molecular biology from the University of Barcelona. During his PhD degree he investigated the apoptotic pathways involved in neuronal apoptosis using neurodegeneration models. 

Afterwards he moved to London to work as a postdoctoral research associate at Barts Cancer Institute (Queen Mary University of London), where he started his career in cancer research. He studied the molecular mechanisms involved in the development of prostate and testicular cancers and also investigated the potential use of an antibody-drug conjugate to treat testicular cancers in collaboration with Takeda Oncology.

Then he moved to industry to work as a principal scientist at Vasgen Ltd., where he developed monoclonal antibodies to be used as inhibitors of metalloproteinases activity and investigated its potential therapeutic use to treat cancer and neovascular ocular diseases.

Marc has published 20 papers in peer-reviewed journals and presented his work in international scientific meetings.

In 2016 he joined Ability Pharmaceuticals, SL as translational research director.  



Press Release

Ability Pharmaceuticals Announces the Inclusion of the First Patients in a Phase 2b Clinical Trial with ABTL0812 + FOLFIRINOX as First Line Therapy in Advanced Pancreatic Cancer simultaneously in USA and Europe + info

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The Chinese pharmaceutical company SciClone joins the capital of AbilityPharma with an investment commitment of three million dollars + info

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The antitumoral drug ABTL0812 shows promising results against neuroblastoma + info

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AbilityPharma receives the approval from the FDA and the AEMPS to start the clinical trial of its molecule against pancreatic cancer in the US and Spain + info

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AbilityPharma receives a 1.6 million euro grant from the FDA and opens a crowdfunding campaign in Capital Cell + info

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AbilityPharma publishes full characterization of mechanism of action of ABTL0812, a Phase II clinical inducer of cytotoxic autophagy in cancer cells, in Autophagy journal + info

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AbilityPharma awarded €5 million from the Horizon Europe EIC Accelerator Pilot Program to conduct a Phase 2b clinical trial with ABTL0812 in patients with advanced pancreatic cancer + info

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AbilityPharma rises € 3.5 million in a financing round to complete the current oncologic phase 2 clinical trial and license ABTL0812 to an international pharmaceutical company + info
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