Joël Besse (MSc, MSc)

Chief Executive Officer (CEO)


Joël has been over the past 29 years, investing in, co-founding and advising life sciences startup companies, as a venture-capitalist or as a private investor.
He was the Managing Director of SED Ventures (later acquired by Paul Capital), a VC firm investing internationally in biotech and medtech startups. He was then a Managing Partner of Atlas Venture, heading their European Life Sciences group. As such he led early-stage financings in multiple biopharmaceutical ventures, including listed and/or acquired companies Actelion Ltd. (acquired by J&J in 2017 for $30b), Newron Pharmaceuticals S.p.A. (SIX: NWRN), Nitec Pharma A.G. (NASDAQ: HZNP), Novamed Pharmaceuticals Inc., Axovan A.G., U3 Pharma GmbH, Prestwick Pharma Inc., Novexel S.A., Novuspharma S.p.A., IDM Pharma Inc. and Arrow Therapeutics Ltd, generating over twelve years an annual portfolio IRR in excess of 60%, as well as the launch of seven new drugs on global markets.
Joël leads Momentum Biotech, a group of impact investors focusing on pharma, medtech, AI and diagnostics projects. His current portfolio includes Astrocyte Pharmaceuticals Inc., Core Biogenesis SAS, Braintale SAS, CeQur S.A., Owkin, Inc., as well as Smoke Free Therapeutics as CEO.
Joël holds an aerospace engineering degree from ISAE Supaero and a masters in theoretical mechanics from Toulouse university.

Yannick Plétan (MD)

Chief Medical Officer (CMO)

Yannick is a physician graduated from the University of Paris, a Board-Certified Pulmonologist, who completed his post-doctoral fellowship at INSERM, post-graduated in Immunology, Clinical Pharmacology and Pharmacokinetics, and had a visiting professorship at the University of California Davis. After several years as a Hospital Practitioner, he joined the pharmaceutical industry where he spent more than 2 decades in R&D and Medical Affairs in managerial positions, at Sanofi, Pierre Fabre Research Institute, Pfizer and Roche-Genentech.

During this period, he completed his scientific training with a complementary business education at Harvard Business School and at HEC. He always had a special interest in tobacco cessation, conducted hospital information and detox campaigns, had a decisive role at the inception of the nicotine patch from discovery to global development, and later participated in the late phase development, and launch of Chantix®.


Michel Huc (Pharm D)

Regulatory expert


Michel holds a PhD in Pharmacy and has 30 years’ experience of the pharmaceutical industry. He was previously the managing director and head pharmacist of several pharmaceutical companies with responsibility for pharmaceutical operations (R&D, regulatory affairs, quality assurance, and production).

Michel spent 16 years working for Pierre Fabre Laboratories where he acquired a unique expertise in development, manufacturing, quality control and regulatory affairs of botanical drugs. He was the pharmacist-in-charge for Pierre Fabre herbal medicines.

Pr. Paul Aveyard

Oxford University, UK


Paul is Professor of Behavioural Medicine at the University of Oxford, a Fellow of Wolfson College and part of the Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care in Oxford.

Paul’s work focuses on helping people change their behaviour, either to prevent serious disease, or as a treatment for that disease.

A lot of his work has examined interventions to help people stop or reduce their smoking.

Paul works with several other organisations to improve health and healthcare. He is a former president of the UK Society of Behavioural Medicine, a former trustee of the Association for the Study of Obesity, a member of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco. He is a senior editor of the journal Addiction and coordinating editor of the Cochrane Tobacco Addiction Group. He has worked on several NICE working groups and advised the Department of Health on smoking and obesity.

In Memoriam Jean-Pierre-Nicolas (MD),

Deceased April 2019



Jean-Pierre was an anesthesiologist and mesotherapy enthusiast. He had the idea to inject extracts of tobacco leaves produced by Stallergenes to help smokers, who were intrinsically not allergic to these leaves, to stop smoking.

He developed his method gradually and ended up injecting doses much higher than those used in the case of allergy treatment, but only once or twice.

Jean-Pierre treated more than 10,000 smokers off-label over a period of more than 10 years. The treatment was very well tolerated by the patients and no adverse events were reported to Stallergenes during this long period.

Bruno Lafont (MSc, EMBA)

Chief Operating Officer (COO)


Bruno joined Smoke Free Therapeutics in 2009. He turned a successful but anecdotal medicine repositioning effort led by a single doctor into a valuable and patented smoking cessation candidate drug approved to enter phase II clinical trials by French regulatory agency ANSM and targeting millions of patients worldwide. Bruno set up a virtual organization involving a network of partners including internationally recognized key opinion leaders, regulatory experts, contract research organizations (CROs) and contract manufacturing organizations (CMOs). He successfully progressed the project in a highly cost constrained environment and directed drug manufacturing, preclinical studies and a Phase I clinical trial within a €1,5M total budget.

Before taking the reins of Smoke Free Therapeutics, Bruno was a member of the Executive management team of PCM Group, a €100M leading international French manufacturing company, from 1999 to 2009.

He served as President of PCM USA from 2004 to 2009, a subsidiary he started in Houston TX and built over a five-year period to profitability with $7M sales and 20+ people employed. As the Innovation Director of PCM Group from 1999 to 2004, he managed a team of 25 engineers, developing and launching incremental and breakthrough innovations. He initiated, managed and concluded new technology acquisitions and numerous corporate organizational projects.

Bruno earned a Master of Science degree in Biochemistry from the National Institutes of Applied Sciences (INSA) in Toulouse, France in 1994, a Master degree in Management from EMLyon Business School in Lyon, France in 1997 and an Executive MBA focused on technology and innovation management from Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland in 2011.

François Brackman

Chief Clinical Officer (CCO)


François holds a Medical Degree from Paris University, with University Diplomas in Clinical Pharmacology and Human Pharmacokinetics.

In his 35-plus years career in the pharmaceutical industry, François held positions of Vice-President, Global Development and Medical Affairs, VP Medical and Regulatory Affairs, Head of Development Platform... As such, François was a member of Directors Boards, R&D Strategic Boards and Portfolio Management Committees, with Servier, Sandoz/Novartis, Fournier, Pierre Fabre.

In his various positions François had direct responsibility in Pre-clinical Development, Pharmaceutical Development, Toxicology, Pharmacokinetics, Regulatory Affairs, Biometry, Clinical Operations, and International Medical Affairs. François was involved in regulatory interactions with National/International Authorities, including the FDA, Health Canada, the EMA, the ANSM, the MHRA, the Koseisho, both for development programmes and international market approvals.

Carole Clair (MD)

Polyclinique Médicale Universitaire de Lausanne, Switzerland


Carole is a doctor graduated from the University of Lausanne (2002), FMH specialist in general internal medicine (2007), and completed her doctoral thesis (MD) on the link in smoking and diabetes (2008).

After a clinical training, she went on to do a postdoctoral fellowship from 2009 to 2011 at the General Internal Medicine and Tobacco Center at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and was trained in Clinical Epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health (Boston) . She graduated with a Master of Science degree (MSc) in 2012.

Back in Switzerland, she obtained an FNS Ambizione scholarship in 2015 to continue her research work related to smoking cessation in people with diabetes. She is also developing an interest in research and teaching about the influence of gender in medicine.

After obtaining a Privat Docent and MER clinical title in 2016, she is appointed assistant professor at the PMU where she currently directs the Research and Development Center.

Anne Stoebner (MD)

Montpellier Cancer Institute, France


Anne is leading the Montpellier Cancer Institute (ICM) unit of addictology. She is a Medical Doctor dedicated to help patients with problematic substance use or addictions, including tobacco, cannabis or alcohol. She is specialized with stopping smoking or reducing consumption.

Anne is the organizational and scientific comity President of the 2018 Congress of the Francophone Society of Tabacology (SFT).

She was the principal investigator of NFL-101 Phase I CESTO clinical trial.

François Mereau

François, is an investor in life science companies both at early stages and after their listing, with a focus on France and Western Europe. He is a member of the French business angels network Angels Santé where he has an active role in selecting the dealflow and completing the due diligence of candidate startups, the major therapeutics areas of biotech, as well as medtech and e-Health sectors. François has a previous background of 20 years in institutional investment on international markets in European banks (Fortis, Compagnie Financière Edmond de Rothschild), fund management companies (FP Consult, Threadneedle Asset Management London) and hedge funds (Adelante Asset Management London). In these positions, he had the responsibility of leading investment teams, achieving absolute returns objectives and monitoring risk for emerging markets hedge funds.

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Joël has been over the past 27 years, investing in, co-founding and advising life sciences startup c