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Ruth Risueño, CSO de Leukos Biotech
Ruth Risueño

Founder and Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) of Leukos Biotech

Born in Cádiz, she studied Biology in Madrid (Autonomous University of Madrid) and did her PhD thesis in immunology at the CBMSO-UAM. After that, she did a post-doc fellowship in Canada focusing on stem cells (Dr. Bhatia’s lab at the McMaster Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute). Since 2012, she has headed up the Leukemia Stem Cells research group at the Josep Carreras Leukemia Research Institute.

Ruth Risueño: “I’d never even considered starting up a company because I didn’t have any business training, but we had a promising project and the right support”


Leukos Biotech is working to develop new treatments for leukemia through a family of drugs with a new mechanism of action. The company was created in 2015 as a spin-off of the Josep Carreras Leukemia Research Institute (IJC) and, in October 2016, closed its first round of funding, for €3.5 millions, led by Inveready.

Plus, the company is one of the first success stories to come out of Health&Bio Team Dating, an initiative of BStartup, Biocat and CataloniaBio. This “speed dating” event brings scientists and business managers together to promote new projects and is where founder Dr. Ruth Risueño found a CEO for the company, Enrique Llaudet.

Why did you want to be an entrepreneur?

The truth is that we founded Leukos Biotech because the stars aligned: a promising project and the right support to set it in motion. The results from experiments in the laboratory I head up at the IJC showed we’d found a new family of drugs that could have a unique anti-leukemia effect. We set up the company to do clinical trials in patients.

Personally, I’d never even considered starting up a company because I didn’t have any business training. However, the experience has been extremely enriching, a crash course in the subject.

What is the most important strategic decision you’ve made so far?

I think the most important strategic decisions we’ve made have been those regarding the team of professionals that make up Leukos. It was critical to create a working group that’s on the same wave length and we’ve been able to do that.

Since Leukos was founded, we’ve known it was essential to have a full-time professional CEO. We were looking for someone with experience in both business and science. One of the events we went to was Health&Bio Team Dating. That’s where we crossed paths with Enrique Llaudet, the current CEO of the company. Enrique has extensive training in scientific research and has been an entrepreneur on several occasions. That made him the perfect candidate.

What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?

The best advice I’ve ever been given was probably to “surround yourself with professionals”. Meaning that if you don’t know much about a certain area of knowledge, find someone who is an expert and can make up for that shortcoming.

And now what? What milestones do you want to achieve in the short term?

We currently have two short-term goals. The first is to start clinical trials with our first drug. We hope, if all goes according to plan, to get started in the last quarter of 2017. On the other hand, we are also developing a new platform to generate new drugs we hope to optimize over the course of this year, but we are in the intellectual protection process and I can’t reveal much more.