Executive Board

Emile Lens - Chief Executive Officer

Emile Lens

Chief Executive Officer

Over the last five years, Emile has been dedicated to driving and executing buy and build strategies in the life sciences industry. His primary focus at Synexa is to build a company that is considered a top class place for scientists to work, delivering the highest quality services to its clients, and to create a sustainable platform that is scalable, efficient, rapidly growing and that will have a meaningful impact on the world.

Emile holds a MSc degree in Economics at Erasmus University. He started his career in banking at MeesPierson. He subsequently moved to ABN AMRO NV, where he ultimately became Head of Mergers and Acquisitions and part of the global M&A and Capital Market management team. He served as CFO and board member at Maxeda DIY, a leading European retail company owned by KKR. As an entrepreneur, he founded Albacore Partners (an M&A boutique) and Nobilo Ventures (an investment boutique). Prior to joining Synexa, Emile served as CFO and board member of Avania, a global medical device CRO, where he was deeply involved in the successful buy and build strategy of that company.

Emile is passionate about working with people, building businesses, and being part of the innovation and the opportunities that are created by the life sciences industry.

Dr. Justin Devine - CMO and interim CSO

Dr. Justin Devine

Chief Medical Officer

Justin is a medical doctor, immunologist and pharmacologist (Stellenbosch University) and a co-founder of Synexa.

His primary focus is to understand our clients’ objectives in new drug development by designing biomarker strategies to bring real insight to the challenges of clinical development. Justin has a very deep understanding of the role that biomarkers and pharmacogenetics play in understanding the performance of a candidate drug.

He is particularly passionate about improving the drug development process by bringing innovative approaches to early phase research, including new ideas in translational medicine, bioinformatics and artificial intelligence

Nadia Borchards - Chief Finance Officer

Nadia Borchards

Chief Finance Officer

Nadia holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Business Administration (PGDBA) from the University of the Western Cape, Cape Town. With an undergrad degree in Biomedical Technology, her career started in the diagnostic pathology sphere in 2001. Since 2015, Nadia’s role has transitioned from diagnostic pathology operations to finance and procurement.

She is passionate about seeing Synexa and its people thrive and flourish. Her focus is to create and sustain the necessary support infrastructure for a fast-growing company to succeed.

Melanie Lucas - Chief Operating Officer

Melanie Lucas

Chief Operating Officer

Melanie Lucas holds a MSc degree in Medical Microbiology (University of Stellenbosch) and has worked in the life sciences industry for over 10 years, with experience in both laboratory techniques and project management. As Chief Operating Officer, Melanie oversees global operations management and activities, which are aligned with the strategic growth goals and vision of Synexa Life Sciences. 

Melanie is passionate about people, empowering scientists to excel, the growth of an operational dream team and delivering reliable clinical services to our customers.

Timo Piironen - Global Head of Bioanalysis

Timo Piironen

Global Head of Bioanalysis

Timo received his Ph.D. in Biotechnology at the University of Turku, Finland in 1998 after which he visited the Danish Cancer Society as a Post-Doc Scientist at Finsen Laboratory, Copenhagen, Denmark for two years (2000-2002). After post-doc period in Denmark, he returned to Finland and started his bioanalytical career in the pharmaceutical industry at Schering, Orion and Bayer Healthcare.

Timo is a co-founder of Syrinx Bioanalytics Oy, which started its operations in 2007 after MBO from Bayer Schering Pharma. Timo has also Adjunct Professorship in Immunotechnology at the department of Biotechnology at the University of Turku. He has over 40 peer reviewed publications in the field of protein chemistry, immunochemistry, immunotechnology, novel in vitro -assays and cancer diagnostics/monitoring.

Timo joined the Synexa family in 2022 after Synexa Life Sciences acquired Syrinx Bioanalytics. Syrinx is particularly strong in PK/immunogenicity testing of regulated bioanalysis, while Synexa’s core strengths lie in its broad portfolio of specialist biomarker and bioanalytical assays, spanning DNA, RNA, protein, cell and tissue capabilities. Timo enjoys resolving scientific challenges, new innovations, and working with the highly motivated team of professionals.

Natalie Strickland - Global Head of Translational Science

Natalie Strickland

Global Head of Translational Science

Natalie earned her PhD in molecular genetics (University of Stellenbosch) before transitioning into infectious disease immunology with a special interest in cellular immunity to HIV/TB co-infection for her postdoctoral research (University of Cape Town). She has extensive experience in both molecular and advanced immunological techniques, including multiparameter flow cytometry. As Global Head of Translational Science, Natalie oversees work in the development of complex flow cytometry and cell-based assays, translational ProtoTrials® and the research and development of novel analytical technologies.

Natalie is passionate about providing creative solutions in challenging scientific research areas and delivering high quality scientific solutions to our customers.

Andreia Soares - Global Head of Cell Biology

Andreia Soares

Global Head of Cell Biology

Andreia is a cellular immunologist with extensive experience in advanced immunological techniques, such as multiparameter flow cytometry. She completed her PhD and post-doctoral research in Clinical Science and Immunology at the University of Cape Town and brings with her a unique perspective on biomarker discovery with her background in infectious diseases and clinical immunology.

She is based at our London laboratory and leads our work globally in flow cytometry and cell-based assay innovation and application as Global Head of Cell Biology.

Supervisory Board

Paul O’Riordan - Chairman of Supervisory Board

Paul O’Riordan

Chairman of Supervisory Board

Paul is a co-founder of Synexa and served as CEO from 2003 to 2022. His long-held ambition is to help build a unique global organisation of professional scientists that can significantly improve the efficiency and success rate of new drug R&D, which he believes is a critical strategic issue facing the pharmaceutical industry and healthcare systems throughout the world.

Paul chairs the supervisory board, which oversees key decisions related to the strategic direction of the group, the performance and growth of the company, good corporate governance, sustainability and social responsibility. He works closely with the CEO to drive accelerated scaling of the company through its ‘buy & build’ strategy. Paul is closely involved in building and maintaining key commercial partnerships and representing Synexa at industry level.

Paul is a chartered accountant (Ireland) and holds an MBA from Harvard University. He is a former partner at McKinsey & Co., where he worked from 1991-2003 in London, Dublin and Johannesburg.

Tom Klein Robbenhaar - Supervisory Board Member

Tom Klein Robbenhaar

Supervisory Board Member

Tom Klein Robbenhaar joined the Gilde Healthcare Private Equity team early 2012. As a partner in the Gilde Healthcare private equity team, he focuses on origination, deal execution and serves on the supervisory boards of investee companies.

Tom has hands-on portfolio management experience in Pharma (Pharmaline), CRDMOs (Viroclinics and Synexa), elderly care (Stepping Stones), outsourced healthcare services (Novicare) and clinic buy & builds (RAD-x).

Prior to joining Gilde Healthcare, Tom worked as Manager at KPMG Corporate Finance where he worked extensively interdisciplinary, with amongst others KPMG Tax and KPMG Healthcare. Tom holds a master degree with distinction in Financial Economics from Erasmus University Rotterdam.

Redmar Koene - Supervisory Board Member

Redmar Koene

Supervisory Board Member

Redmar Koene is an investment professional at Gilde Healthcare. He is involved with deal origination and deal execution and serves on the supervisory boards or equivalent of investee companies like Synexa and KLIFO (Drug Development Consulting).

In addition, he worked with Symeres (drug discovery CRO) on strategy and M&A, as well as with several other companies on executing successful buy-and-build agenda’s. Prior to joining Gilde Healthcare, he worked as investment professional at a Swiss-based investment company, investing in both listed as non-listed companies.

Scientific Advisors

Prof. Patrick Bouic - Principal Scientific Consultant

Prof. Patrick Bouic

Principal Scientific Consultant

Patrick is a co-founder of Synexa Life Sciences and an Extraordinary Professor of Immunology at Stellenbosch University in Cape Town.

In his role as Senior Scientific Advisor, Patrick’s main focus is to advise and support Synexa on the latest developments in biomedical science to the challenges facing our clients and to ensure the highest quality biomarker and bioanalytical analysis across our global laboratory network. Patrick holds a PhD in immunology from the University of Claude Bernard, Lyon, France and has spent over 35 years working on the application of immunopathology to questions of human health.

His professional passion is the development of a new generation of scientists equipped to apply a more integrated understanding of human biology to the diseases and drugs with which we work.

Matti Kimberg - In Memoriam

Matti Kimberg

In Memoriam

Matti was a molecular geneticist (University of Stellenbosch) and immunologist (University of Cape Town), with more than 10 years’ experience in regulated bioanalysis and clinical biomarkers.

As CSO, his primary focus was to ensure that the execution of all work performed at Synexa was scientifically driven by the objective of generating data that is informative towards answering the specific questions being asked in the context of each study. He had a deep understanding of the principals of the regulatory framework supporting bioanalysis and applying the guidelines provided by regulators to novel analytical technologies and therapeutic modalities.

Matti was passionate about using world class science and innovation to transform the way novel therapeutics are developed, to bring them to market faster, cheaper and safer.