ALMA Life Sciences is an early-stage investment firm focusing on the creation and growth of innovative healthcare companies. It was founded by biotechnology entrepreneurs and investors Dr. Magda Marquet and Dr. François Ferré. In 1998, they started their first company, Althea Technologies, which became a leading provider of contract services to the biotech industry worldwide. Althea was successfully acquired in 2013 by the Japanese group Ajinomoto and continues to have a significant presence in San Diego to this day. They also co-founded a spinoff operation, AltheaDX, a molecular diagnostics company specializing in personalized medicine and pharmacogenomics to treat patients with anxiety and depression which was acquired by Castle Biosciences in 2022. Magda and François are respectively senior advisor and managing director of Mesa Verde Venture Partners.
Magda and François are very active in the non-profit arena and play a pivotal role in developing San Diego’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, serving on the boards of BIOCOM, UCSD Moores Cancer Center, The Scripps Research Institute Board of Overseers, La Jolla Institute of Immunology, Kyoto Symposium Organization, and the Chopra Foundation. They have received numerous prestigious awards throughout their careers including the 2005 Regional Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award. Under their leadership, Althea Technologies has received several Best Companies to Work For awards. In 2016, Magda and François were inducted into the CONNECT Entrepreneur Hall of Fame.
Born and raised in Andorra, Magda holds a doctorate in biochemical engineering from INSA/University of Toulouse, France. Prior to founding Althea Technologies, she held several management positions at companies such as Amylin Pharmaceuticals and Vical where she developed and patented novel clinical production methods for gene therapy and DNA vaccines.
François grew up in France where he received his Ph.D. in molecular oncology at the Pasteur Institute. He completed his post-doctoral training at UCSD. François is a recognized leader in genomics, a field in which he has co-edited a book on the polymerase chain reaction with Nobel Prize winner Dr. Kary Mullis, and has collaborated with Dr. Jonas Salk on the development of a therapeutic HIV vaccine.