About Us

Cellesce was founded in 2013 and is built on biochemical and bioprocess engineering expertise from the University of Bath and cell and organoid biology expertise from Cardiff University. In December 2017 Cellesce moved into the Medicentre in Cardiff, Wales.

Cellesce has invented and patented a unique bioprocess for the expansion of human-derived, normal and cancer organoids for a multitude of applications including drug discovery and organ-on-a-chip applications.

Until recently, organoids could only be grown and expanded manually. This is a technically challenging, time-consuming, and labour-intensive process resulting in small numbers of inconsistently sized organoids, limiting their suitability for use in high throughput applications and widespread use by big pharma and biotech.

Cellesce’s patented ‘disruptive’ bioprocess, now in its second generation has enabled a significant increase in PDO production compared to manual processes. Furthermore, better process controls utilising in-line sensors and real-time monitoring ensure precise culture conditions, improved yield and control of organoid size and reduced batch to batch, user to user variability. A significant step-change to existing manual PDO culture methods, enabling organoids to enter the mainstream earlier in the drug discovery cascade.

The Board

Our leadership team combines technical expertise in bioprocessing and the cancer biology of organoids together with a track record of incubating high potential start-ups and building businesses:

Victoria Marsh Durban

Victoria Marsh Durban

Chief Executive Officer

Vicky completed her Ph.D. at Cardiff University in 2008 in the field of cancer genetics with a focus on models of gastrointestinal tract cancers. She subsequently moved to the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) where she held a post-doctoral research scholarship investigating targeted therapeutic approaches in malignant melanomas. In 2014 she returned to Cardiff to take up a Research Fellowship at the European Cancer Stem Cell Research Institute.

Vicky took up her first commercial role as Head of Cell Biology at ReNeuron in 2016 before joining Cellesce as Lead Scientist in 2019. Vicky has played a significant role in helping the Company to navigate the CV-19 global pandemic whilst ensuring that key commercial and scientific progress has been maintained.

John Allbrook

John Allbrook

Chairman

John is an experienced leader in global corporations, private equity and listed businesses across the financial services, business services and technology sectors. Most recently he was Chairman of Syscap, a specialist SME finance company. Previously he was the CEO of GoIndustry plc, the AIM listed provider of asset sales and valuation services. This followed a 10 year spell at GE Capital, where he led multiple P&Ls in Europe.

John’s proven expertise is in helping businesses to thrive in any economic environment, with an emphasis on building robust financial, strategic, people and technology foundations to enable profitable growth.

Tim Watts

Tim Watts

Non-Executive Director

Tim has worked in the pharmaceutical and biotech sectors since 1990 with experience in both Big Pharma and both public and privately-held SMEs. Most recently, from August 2018 to September 2021 he was at AIM-listed Shield Therapeutics plc (L.STX), a company focused on commercialising its innovative iron deficiency therapy, where he was initially CFO and then latterly CEO and a director from April 2020. From 2012 to 2017 Tim was CFO and a director of Oxford BioMedica PLC (L.OXB), a world-leading cell and gene therapy company, when the management team grew the Group’s market capitalisation from £30 million to £330 million and laid the foundations for the business it is today. Prior to Oxford BioMedica, from 2007 to 2011 Tim was CFO of Archimedes Pharma, a private-equity backed specialty pharma company, and before that from 1990 to 2007 he was in a variety of increasingly senior roles at AstraZeneca, including Group Financial Controller from 2002 to 2006.

Since December 2017 Tim has been a non-executive director at Fusion Antibodies PLC (L.FAB), a Belfast-based AIM-listed company specialising in providing pre-clinical antibody discovery, engineering and services for both therapeutic drug and diagnostic applications. He was also a director of the UK’s BioIndustry Association from 2013 to 2017.

Kate Rowley

Kate Rowley

Non-Executive Director

Kate is an Independent Consultant for Symmetrist and a Venture Partner at Global Bio Fund. She advises companies developing innovative science and technology with the potential to transform healthcare. Kate supports companies from across the UK, West Coast US and Australia and works with them on project, executive and non-executive roles as meets their needs.

Kate has a deep history of commercialisation of Life Sciences with experience in Investor, Founder and Non-Executive Director roles across a variety of businesses in med tech, digital health and drug discovery/development. She has more than 7 years’ experience of investing as an Investor Director working at IP Group and then Bioscience Managers, where she led the team supporting Downing with their EIS/VCT investments. Prior to this Kate held a number of commercially focussed roles at Quotient Clinical (now Quotient Sciences) Nexxus, the West of Scotland Bioscience Network and SAMS.

Francis Bealin-Kelly

Non-Executive Director

Francis is an innovation and R&D leader with a proven track record of developing high performance teams that build businesses. His career spans over 30 years. Post his Ph.D., he started his career in innovation development at Procter and Gamble where he developed OTC drug delivery mechanisms and subsequently led Open Innovation targeted M&A. He then moved to SABMiller (the world’s largest beer company), where, as the global Head of R&D and Innovation he revolutionised economy beer development in the 3rd world. In a move to Strauss Coffee (an Amsterdam based top 5 global coffee company) Francis was the company’s Chief Technology Officer, on the Executive Committee and put in place a state of the art global quality system and developed strategic partnerships with Chinese high technology companies.

Francis is currently an advisor to www.remediiate.com, a company with technology for capturing Carbon Dioxide, feeding livestock and preventing beef and dairy cattle from producing methane / greenhouse gases. In addition, his new consultancy is helping to advise two top 20 FTSE companies on innovation development.

Chris Thompson

Chris Thompson

Non-Executive Director

With a background in physics, engineering and accountancy, Chris has spent 25 years working in design and innovation consulting. He was Chief Operator Officer of Fitch plc working in the US and UK and MD of PSD Associates Ltd before founding Viadynamics in 1998.

Viadynamics advises businesses on how to make innovation happen – from strategy to action including innovation capability building. Chris has led innovation assignments for global corporations (like 3M, Abbott, AXA, Fresenius, GSK, Leo Pharma, Mars, Pepsico, SABMiller and Unilever), start-ups (like Snap Fashion, and Sugru), and for universities (Cambridge, Kent, Warwick and York).

Rob Snedden

Company Secretary

Rob is an experienced finance professional and has worked as financial controller for a number of companies. Robert graduated from Napier University, Edinburgh with a degree in Accounting and a Postgraduate Diploma in Industrial Administration. He became a member of CIMA in 1991.

Management Team

Victoria Marsh Durban

Victoria Marsh Durban

Chief Operating Officer

Vicky completed her Ph.D. at Cardiff University in 2008 in the field of cancer genetics with a focus on models of gastrointestinal tract cancers. She subsequently moved to the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) where she held a post-doctoral research scholarship investigating targeted therapeutic approaches in malignant melanomas. In 2014 she returned to Cardiff to take up a Research Fellowship at the European Cancer Stem Cell Research Institute.

Vicky took up her first commercial role as Head of Cell Biology at ReNeuron in 2016 before joining Cellesce as Lead Scientist in 2019. Vicky has played a significant role in helping the Company to navigate the CV-19 global pandemic whilst ensuring that key commercial and scientific progress has been maintained.

Hozefa Amijee

Business Development

Hozefa has extensive experience in commercial life science companies both within R&D and CRO environments. He strengthens the Cellesce Team heavily engaged in organoid R&D as it moves into a stronger commercial phase, adding new tissue lines and broadening its expansion capabilities. Hozefa leads Cellesce Business Development activity as it gains  traction through the leverage of its organoid expertise and bioprocessing scale-up technology. Hozefa was formerly Senior Scientific Officer with Rxcelerate based in Cambridge. He gained his Ph.D. at Manchester University.

Rob Snedden

Company Secretary

Rob is an experienced finance professional and has worked as financial controller for a number of companies. Robert graduated from Napier University, Edinburgh with a degree in Accounting and a Postgraduate Diploma in Industrial Administration. He became a member of CIMA in 1991.

Scientific Advisory Board

Our Scientific Advisory Board includes technical expertise in bioprocessing,  the cancer biology of organoids and leadership in regenerative medicine:

Francis Bealin-Kelly

Chair

Francis is an innovation and R&D leader with a proven track record of developing high performance teams that build businesses. His career spans over 30 years. Post his Ph.D., he started his career in innovation development at Procter and Gamble where he developed OTC drug delivery mechanisms and subsequently led Open Innovation targeted M&A. He then moved to SABMiller (the world’s largest beer company), where, as the global Head of R&D and Innovation he revolutionised economy beer development in the 3rd world. In a move to Strauss Coffee (an Amsterdam based top 5 global coffee company) Francis was the company’s Chief Technology Officer, on the Executive Committee and put in place a state of the art global quality system and developed strategic partnerships with Chinese high technology companies.

Francis is currently an advisor to www.remediiate.com, a company with technology for capturing Carbon Dioxide, feeding livestock and preventing beef and dairy cattle from producing methane / greenhouse gases. In addition, his new consultancy is helping to advise two top 20 FTSE companies on innovation development.

Professor Julian Chaudhuri

Professor Julian Chaudhuri is Deputy Vice-Chancellor – Education and Student Experience at the University of Plymouth. From December 2021 Julian will be taking up a new position as Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education) at the University of Bath.

A co-founder of Cellesce, Julian’s research is in tissue engineering, at the interface between engineering, biological sciences and medicine – where the most interesting problems exist. Specifically, his work has addressed the development of biodegradable biomaterials and bioreactor systems for stem cell culture and three-dimensional tissue engineering. In 2003 he co-founded Bath’s Centre for Regenerative Medicine and served as its Deputy Director for seven years.

Professor Marianne Ellis

Professor Marianne Ellis is a chartered Chemical Engineer, and Head of the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Bath. A co-founder of Cellesce, Marianne is an expert in bioprocess design for tissue engineering, particularly scalable bioreactors for cell expansion and their translation from the academic lab bench to an industrial setting.

Professor Trevor Dale

Professor Trevor Dale is Deputy Head of Molecular Biosciences Division in the School of Biosciences at Cardiff University.

Trevor is a pioneering research scientist interested in how cells talk to each other, how this goes wrong in cancer – and how protein machines control it all. The main focus of Trevor’s research group is on the Wnt signalling pathway, and his team are growing normal and tumour organoids from a number of human tissue types.

Trevor studied Biochemistry at Imperial College before completing a PhD on interferon signal transduction at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund (now Cancer Research UK). Following a postdoctoral fellowship at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, he established a research group at the Institute of Cancer Research in London in 1991.