Isabel Portero, MD, PhD
Isabel Portero, MD, holds a PhD in Medicine with a background in the biomedical field.
She is the Founder and CEO of BIOHOPE, a startup dedicated to precision medicine, that promotes that each person receives personalized treatment based on individual physiology.
Before founding Biohope, Isabel acquired extensive experience -more than 15 years- as the Medical and R&D Director for different hospitals, foundations, universities, and biomedical/pharma companies, including big pharma (Merck and Roche) and biotech companies like Cellerix/Tygenics and Genetrix.
As she states, “I am firstly a medical doctor, which has driven everything. I would say that my background was critical because without it, I would have never launched Biohope. I have a 360° view of healthcare. My experience as a physician taught me the medical approach, while the pharmaceuticals industry gave me the marketing perspective. My experience in the biotech sector was important for developing the technology, and the university context clued me in on handling young people, which has also been very important.”
With her medical vocation and entrepreneurial spirit, she decided to run her own biomedical company by joining a multidisciplinary team of professionals, who together aimed to provide solutions to the unsolved medical needs in organ transplantation, a field to which Isabel has dedicated an important part of her career.
“When I worked at Merck Sharp & Dohme, one of the founders said that whenever you focus on the patients and what benefit them, you obtain economic benefits in return. Whenever you look for personal gain and lose that focus, you sink. If you work in the healthcare sector, you have to think about what will benefit the patient at all times. That’s the key to success.”
Dr. Portero began working on developing a test and founded Biohope in 2015. However, she found that creating a test was more challenging than she had anticipated. One challenge was that it proved difficult to grow immune cells in culture; another was scaling up the test while keeping it simple and able to give consistent results.
Despite the obstacles, her works has been recognized widely. Biohope received a grant from the European Commission for over € 3.4M in 2016 and Dr. Portero has received multiple awards over the years, including being listed in Forbes 100 most creative people in business (2018) and being named “Referent Women in Innovative Entrepreneurship” (2021).
She defines herself as a non-conformist and a lover of challenges. The desire to make a social contribution and the ability to identify a need in medicine led her to creating a startup.