Have you met... Nuno Prego Ramos?


Nuno Prego Ramos is the CEO and co-Founder of CellmAbs. Nuno tells us his insights on the pharma industry, tells us what the life and the main responsibilities of a Biotech CEO are, and gives us advice for the future of translational science!

Nuno Prego Ramos is a Biochemist (PhD), with a law degree and a post-graduate in marketing management. He started working in the pharma industry 20 years ago in sales and marketing. Nuno is an expert in product management and marketing and has worked in Big pharma companies. Right now, Nuno is the CEO and Co-founder of CellmAbs, a Biotech with a focus on oncology therapies!


Nuno, which are the main differences between working in Big pharma and a Biotech?

When working in Big pharma, you get to learn the right tools and the best practices. But, in a Biotech, everything is faster, more flexible and a whole more intense. And that is what gives you the agility needed to make last-minute changes without having to go through a complex big chain of decision-makers.  Also, in Biotech the titles at C-level mean very little, therefore you have everyone motivated to contribute. So, I think the differences between Biotech and Big pharma make them quite complementary since Biotech is where we can get fast innovation so that Big pharma can then come onboard later with, but not limited to, the regulatory and commercial skills.

How is the daily life of the CEO of a Biotech?

We do a little bit of everything (without Micromanaging) and fast. A CEO needs to understand the focus of the company and keep everything aligned with that. Also, at the same time, we need to have a 2nd and 3rd parallel plan cooking, in case the first does not work. Be available for the team and the stakeholders. We need to think of our projects’ fragilities every day so that we are as prepared as possible for any obstacle that may arise and do this in the leanest way possible. This, of course, means many working hours, but it is like someone said once: you work from 9-6 and to get things done and after that, you work to become rich (laughs).


Why lead a start-up at this point of your career, and not stay in the Big pharma?

First, because I was always moved more by the science part of the business. I always believed that science and research are the key drivers of the pharma industry and always wanted to be very close to it. Second, when you find the right people and the right project, it is hard to say no, even if it means risking your professional comfort in the beginning. For every project, you need investment and depending on the level of maturity of the project, it means risk capital so when asked by investors how confident we were on the viability of the project, I always answered:  “I also invested and took the risk, I have skin in the game”.


Does your law degree help you in your daily activities and do you think an MBA is useful for scientists?

The Law degree provided me with analytical reasoning, business savviness and the importance of understanding the influence of details in a holistic perspective. It also helped with soft skills. Nowadays, I can easily analyze science data with some distance and not be biased with a project just because I co-founded it. Nevertheless, I rarely use my legal skills to assess legal paperwork. We need the best people in each sector of the company. Regarding an MBA or any management education: yes! I do think that if scientists learn management skills, that’s the cherry on top of the pie. Perfect.

What are the key characteristics you search for when adding new members to your team?

They need to be honest/decent, be able to collaborate, be competent, and have a critical view on things.

In your opinion, what will be the next breakthrough in science in the next year?

Being able to use metadata and AI for healthcare.

How do you deal with the pressure of having a corporate job?

Keeping your priorities straight! In fact, it is the weight of the responsibility and the focus on the mission and goals that keeps me aligned and balanced. There are challenges every day that may be of concern, but we need to maintain the stress and pressure at low levels. Some problems are only concerning if we do not find the right/best/only solution to address them. My team and I typically encounter situations that have, by nature the potential to be favorable or unfavorable. We deal with them with the same level of pressure because we work based on the assumption that they will arise eventually. Expect surprises and make them predictable, therefore manageable.

Do you aspire to be the CEO of a biotech startup? Let us know in the comments!