Scientific Advisory Board

Prof. Dr. Josef Penninger, MD



Josef Penninger was the founding scientific director of IMBA in Vienna and heads the Life Sciences Institute at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, the largest such institute at any Canadian University.

He studied Medicine at the University of Innsbruck, is a member of the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, the Austrian Academy of Sciences (elected as the youngest member), the Academia Europea, and the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences.

He was also a Young Global leader of the World Economic Forum.

Josef is a Professor of Genetics at the University of Vienna, Adjunct Full Professor of Immunology at the University of Toronto, and holds honorary Professorships from the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Qingdao University.

Major achievements include pioneering insights into the molecular basis of osteoporosis and breast cancer, as well as the study of metastatic spread.
Josef Penninger’s major awards include the Descartes Prize, the Prize for medical excellence, an AAAS Award, the Innovator Award from Era of Hope/U.S. Department of Defense and a second ERC Advanced grant.

Dr. N. Rao Movva, PhD

Dr. Movva brings 40 years of broad experience, from the biotech and large pharmaceutical industry. He worked at Biogen, the first European biotech company in its founding years in Geneva and later at Sandoz and Novartis, Basel as executive director. At Sandoz, he was instrumental in developing the recombinant therapeutic protein production methodologies for clinical development.

Dr. Movva had initiated and pioneered the chemical biology efforts that led to the discovery and the understanding of the biological targets of rapamycin, the TOR pathways, in collaboration with Drs. Joseph Heitman and Mike Hall at Biozentrum, Basel. This significant milestone lead to the elucidation of the central role, these pathways play in cell growth and development. They also lead to the advancement of many currently marketed drugs in transplantation, cancer, restenosis and to the development of longevity drugs in many Biotech companies.


Dr. Movva and his team have contributed to multiple programs at Novartis that uncovered the mechanism of action of natural compounds to advance them as leads for drug discovery. 

Dr. Movva was recognized as a Novartis Distinguished Scientist in 2012 for his many significant contributions at the company. He is currently an independent advisor and mentor to Pharma and biotech companies.

Dr. Norbert Bischofberger, PhD

Dr. Norbert Bischofberger received a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Zurich’s ETH and received an honorary doctorate in Natural Sciences (2016) from The University of Innsbruck and an honorary doctorate in Letters in Medicine (2017) from Baylor College of Medicine.

He is the President & Chief Executive Officer of Kronos Biotech and he was the Executive Vice President, Research and Development and Chief Scientific Officer at Gilead Sciences.

He was part of the core management team that grew Gilead from less than 50 employees with no revenues to 10,000 employees with $25B in revenue.

Dr. Bert Klebl is Managing Director and Chief Scientific Officer of Lead Discovery Center (LDC) in Dortmund, Germany.

Dr. Bert Klebl has gathered more than 20 years of professional experience in the life sciences industry.
He has worked in different positions in drug discovery and early development, most recently as Senior Director Discovery Biology and Head of Biology at GPC Biotech.


Before that he was Axxima’s Vice President Research responsible for the discovery and development of the company’s portfolio of kinase inhibitors for various therapeutic indications.
In previous positions, he has worked as a project and platform manager, as well as a scientist at Aventis and Hoechst Marion Roussel.

He earned his PhD in biochemistry at the University of Konstanz, Germany, and did postdoctoral work at the NRC Biotechnology Research Institute in Montreal, Canada.

In the course of his research, he has published more than 55 articles in peer reviewed journals and co invented more than 25 patents and patent applications.

Scientific Experts

Dr. Martin Denzel, PhD

Co-Founder and Advisor


Dr. Martin Denzel studied Human Biology in Marburg (Germany) and performed his PhD at the Sanford Burnam Institute in San Diego (USA).

He became expert in forward genetics during his postdoctoral work at the Max-Planck-Institute for Biology of Ageing in Cologne, where he started his own research laboratory in the department of ‘Molecular Genetics of Ageing’ in 2014.

Dr. Martin Denzel will support the continuous improvement of our genetic screening platform as well as advise on selected drug development projects.

Dr. Ulrich Elling, PhD

Co-Founder and Scientific Expert

Dr. Ulrich Elling studied Biology in Regensburg (Germany) and graduated in Molecular Biology from the EMBL in Heidelberg (Germany).

During his postdoctoral work with Prof. Dr. Josef Penninger in Vienna (Austria) Ulrich became expert in genome-wide forward genetic screens in mammalian systems.

He is a recognized world expert in genome-wide modification strategies and genetic engineering of genomes.

Since 2006 he has been working at the IMBA. In 2015 he started his own research group, where he established as master mind the mouse haploid cell knockout library, the largest stem cell library in the world.