Our Purpose

Our purpose is to realize the promise of viral medicines, thereby extending the horizons of human healthcare.

We pioneered a new product category of Viral Sensitizers (VSE™) that removes the barriers to manufacturing effective viral medicines at scale. Customized VSE formulations optimize research processes and enhance production. VSEs help bring your treatments to patients on an accelerated timeline.

Our Story

Virica was founded in 2018 based on a decade of research in the laboratory of Dr. Jean-Simon Diallo at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute.

Dr. Diallo was investigating novel oncolytic viral therapies (OVTs) and recognized the need for VSEs to enhance the effectiveness of OVTs. After researching and developing VSEs in the OVT space, Dr. Diallo recognized how broadly applicable their attributes would be in other areas like gene therapy and vaccine production. Recent influenza outbreaks and the COVID-19 pandemic highlight the need for scalability in the production of vaccines. Virica has the products and experience to combat these challenges.

Our Innovators

Dr. Jean-Simon Diallo
Dr. Jean-Simon DialloScientific Founder/CEO
Dr. Jean-Simon Diallo, Ph.D., is a Scientist with broad expertise in biochemistry, molecular biology, cancer therapeutics, and viral immunology. Dr. Diallo is an internationally recognized expert in oncolytic virotherapy and was seminal in the discovery of Viral Sensitizers and its development for virus manufacturing and cancer therapy applications in combination with oncolytic viruses.
Ken Newport
Ken NewportExecutive Chairman
Ken has over 30 years of scientific and business experience. Ken is a retired life sciences entrepreneur and executive who serves on several corporate and non-profit Board of Directors. In Ken’s role as Executive Chairman of Virica, Ken provides strategic oversight to the entire Virica team.
Ella Korets-Smith
Ella Korets-Smith Chief Business Officer
Ella is an entrepreneur and business development executive for over 15 years. She has a strong track record of deals, working with companies such as IMV Inc., Nordion Inc, and Antibe Therapeutics Inc, driving fundraising and liquidity events. In roles of increasing responsibility, she has lead successful marketing and business development programs resulting in annual sales of over $50M. Ms. Korets-Smith has an M.Sc. in Medical Genetics from the University of Toronto and an M.B.A. from Dalhousie University.
JonDavid De Jong
JonDavid De JongVice President, Scientific Operations
JonDavid has over 20 years bench experience in virology, molecular biology, oncology and nanoparticle research. As Vice President of Scientific Operations at Virica Biotech, he works with our team of scientists and business development professionals dedicated to helping biotech and CDMO organizations make viral medicines a reality.
Chirag Potdar
Chirag PotdarScientific Marketing and Communications Manager
Chirag has over 5 years of progressive experience transitioning from R&D to marketing and brand management in his career. As the Scientific Marketing and Communications Manager, he works to ensure Virica’s technology improves the way Viral Vectors are produced globally. He got his MBA from Johns Hopkins University, focussing on healthcare marketing and has a MSc in Biotechnology from the University of Pune.
Zeeshan Shaikh
Zeeshan ShaikhSenior Account Executive
Zeeshan brings 5 years of Biotech and Diagnostics experience, with a focus on Genetics solutions. He has experience tailoring complex Biotech solutions for Diagnostic, CDMO, and Biopharma clients, ensuring that their unique needs are met. Zeeshan has a Bachelor of Science with a Specialization in Biotechnology from the University of Waterloo, and a Masters in Biochemistry from the University of Guelph.
Taylor Brooks
Taylor BrooksAccount Executive
Taylor brings 5 years of combined R&D and business experience in the fields of tissue culture R&D and commercial operations supporting CDMO programs from early phase to commercial manufacture. Taylor is an Associate of Business Development at Virica Biotech and holds a B.Sc. in Biology from Mount Allison University and a M.Sc. in Cellular and Molecular Physiology from McMaster University.
Benjamin McLeod
Benjamin McLeodTechnical Business Development Associate
Benjamin brings a strong background in upstream and downstream production of gene therapy products, in addition to business development skills in the life sciences. He functions as a Technical Business Development Associate for Virica. Benjamin received a Master of Biotechnology from the University of Guelph, and a Bachelor of Science in Molecular and Cellular Biology (Honours) from the University of Ottawa.
Anni Patel
Anni PatelBusiness Development Officer
Anni gained her Bachelor of Science (Honors) in Life Sciences from Queen’s University. She has extensive knowledge of the life sciences industry and over 4 years of experience in client-oriented roles. Anni serves as the Business Development Analyst at Virica Biotech and supports the Business Development team. 
Namrata Nair
Namrata Nair Manager - Legal
Namrata Nair is an internationally trained lawyer with over seven years of experience across different sectors like Healthcare, Merchant Banking, Energy and Mining. Her expertise includes Contract drafting & negotiation, Legal compliance & advisory, M&A,Corporate Governance and has worked with clients like Daimler AG, McKesson, and Athena. Namrata holds Masters in law (GPLLM) from University of Toronto, Bachelor of Laws & Bachelor of Commerce from University of Delhi in India, Master of Commerce in Business Policy and Corporate Governance and Company Secretary from ICSI, India. She also holds PG in International Trade Laws and certification in Intellectual Property from WIPO. Being previously called to the Bar in India, she is currently pursuing licensing with Law Society of Ontario.
Juan David Montoya-Ramirez
Juan David Montoya-RamirezLegal Analyst
Juan is a lawyer from the National University of Colombia, with a post-graduate diploma in procedural law. He has more than 7 years of professional experience, 3 of which he worked as a consulting lawyer for the film industry, whence he acquired extensive experience with copyright and intellectual property. His versatility to adapt and apply legal knowledge in all areas of law has allowed him to act as a lawyer in corporate law matters for several companies. He has also well versed and experienced as a trial lawyer.
Claudia Vintu
Claudia VintuFinancial Controller
Claudia brings over 15 years of international finance experience on a broad range of industries, and a stellar expertise of agile business planning solutions, by managing multiple organisations over the past two decades, through significant changes such as integration, implementation of new accounting systems, aligning cohesiveness between operations and finance processes within the business. She has proved skills in overseeing and modernizing all aspects of finance and accounting management, including financial reporting, budgeting, modeling, and planning analysis. Prior to joining Virica, Claudia was in several positions where she developed people management skills and building of multi-year-rolling forecast models and SaaS based metrics and analysis. She was instrumental in the implementation of SAP and Oracle ERP’s, which eventually leaned to substantial improvement of the organisation's KPIs. Claudia has an Executive MBA from the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers in France and a Business Finance Diploma from Sheridan College in Canada.
Katie Cadorette
Katie CadoretteChief of Staff
Katie holds a Bachelor of Commerce from the Sprott School of Business at Carleton University and has extensive experience in facilitating multistakeholder engagement in the public and private sector. Katie brings strong organizational and project management skills to Virica Biotech to support cross functional projects.
Emily Dineen
Emily DineenAdministrative Assistant
Emily holds a BA (Hons) in History with a minor in Physics and joins Virica with 4+ years’ experience in small business management. Emily brings strong research, communication, and interdisciplinary skills to support executive and company-wide work at Virica Biotech.
Felicia Renaud
Felicia RenaudManager of HR and Corporate Compliance
Felicia brings 7 years of experience in strategizing, building, and sustaining core human resources functions from working in a variety of industries. As the Manager of Human Resources and Corporate Compliance, she is dedicated to ensuring that the people at Virica, are safe, healthy, happy, and equipped to surpass their goals. She is also accountable for internal and external corporate compliance, including effective development and implementation of SOPs, internal policies, enterprise-wide reporting, and risk management. Felicia holds certification in Human Resources Management from Algonquin College.
Naveen Haribabu
Naveen HaribabuProject Manager
Naveen holds a M.Sc., Microbiology and Immunology from the University of Ottawa and a B.Tech. from Anna University. Prior to Virica, Naveen’s work experience is in the fields of Viral Vaccine Manufacturing and Oncolytic Viral Cancer Therapy.
Nezika Haniff-Gibson
Nezika Haniff-GibsonLaboratory Manager
Nezika has 16 years of work experience that encompass Teaching, Forensic Analysis and Laboratory Management. In addition to maintaining an effective, safe and efficiently functional laboratory, she has previously played an active role in the physical set-up, implementation and validation of methodologies and the establishment of operational procedures for a new laboratory unit. Her academic accomplishments include an M.Sc. (Distinction) in Forensic Science from the University of Strathclyde, Scotland, U.K., a B.Sc. (Specialized Honors) in Biotechnology from York University, Canada and a Biotechnology Research Diploma (Honors) from Seneca College, Canada.
Marli Vlok
Marli VlokScientist
Marli is a molecular and environmental virologist with 15 years of experience in virus discovery, virus-host interaction and molecular biology. She obtained her MSc, with Distinction, in Microbiology at Rhodes University in South Africa and her PhD and Post-doctoral experience at The University of British Columbia. Marli is passionate about working and studying all aspect of virology and she brings that enthusiasm to her scientific role at Virica.
Andrea Vervoort
Andrea VervoortJunior Data Scientist
Andrea is a recent graduate of Chemical Engineering from Queen’s University, with a specialization in Biochemical Engineering. Andrea brings her strong background in research and biochemical process engineering to Virica Biotech, stemming from both her academic involvements as well as a professional engineering internship in the Cancer Therapeutics Program of the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute.
Tianxiao Yang
Tianxiao YangLaboratory Technologist
Tianxiao has a M.Sc. (applied) degree in Biotechnology from McGill University and a Bachelor’s degree from China Pharmaceutical University. Prior to Virica, my work experience was in different research fields, including molecular microbiology research on Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections, Biobank of severe Covid-19 patients in Quebec, and lab managements and administrative work for general cancer research labs.
Olawale Daniel
Olawale Daniel Product Development Technologist
A well-informed technologist with over 7 years of experience that spans cGMP manufacturing processes and laboratory operations in the biopharmaceutical industry. Olawale holds a master’s degree in medical biotechnology from the University of Windsor and B.Sc., Biochemistry from Afe Babalola University. Joining Virica, Olawale brings with him a background that cuts across implementing research processes and manufacturing operations.
Keara Sutherland
Keara SutherlandResearch Technologist
Keara brings 5 years of research experience in the fields of molecular biology and pharmacology. She obtained her MSc in Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Ottawa and BSc in Life Sciences specializing in cancer research at Queen’s University. Prior to Virica Keara was working with oncolytic viruses and infected cell vaccine cancer therapies.

Biotechnology Industry Alliances

Virica supports the biotechnology industry. Here is a snapshot of organizations with whom we share knowledge by attending meetings or giving presentations.


Virica is a member of BIOTECanada, an association building a climate for biotechnology firms to succeed in today’s hyper-competitive economy.  Visit the website.

Alliance of Regenerative Medicine

Virica is a member of Alliance of Regenerative Medicine. This association supports the development of safe and effective regenerative medicines and advanced therapies worldwide.  Visit the website.

Breakthrough technology is both intimidating and exhilarating

To achieve the promise of viral medicine, though, the innovation of many is needed. We’re here to guide the way. Let our scientific experience and expertise support you, your science and your business. Let’s talk.

Have a question? Contact Virica