a new source of energy

Established in 2012, Khondrion is focused on the development of innovative therapies for inherited mitochondrial diseases.

about Khondrion

Khondrion is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company discovering and developing therapies targeting mitochondrial disease. The company is advancing its proprietary science through a wholly-owned clinical and preclinical small molecule pipeline of potential medicines.  

The company’s in-house discovery engine is using unique live-cell imaging technologies, patient-derived cell lines and predictive cell-based disease models to build a portfolio of promising compounds. Active discovery programmes are underway developing new therapies, biomarkers and new read-out technologies in the field of mitochondrial diseases.

To accelerate the discovery and development of its potential medicines for mitochondrial diseases, Khondrion collaborates with a global clinical and academic network and patient organisations internationally. Khondrion is headquartered in Nijmegen, The Netherlands.


Khondrion was founded by Professor Dr. Jan Smeitink who has devoted his entire career to the care of mitochondrial disease patients, to better understand the complexity of this disease and his life mission is to develop a treatment for these high impact, often early, fatal group of disorders.

Fully operational since 2012 and located in Nijmegen, The Netherlands, Khondrion focuses primarily on the development of innovative therapies for inherited mitochondrial diseases, including Leigh disease, MELAS (mitochondrial encephalomyopathy, lactic acidosis, and stroke-like episodes), Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy and other Respiratory Chain / Oxidative Phosphorylation disorders.

our leadership team

Jan Smeitink

Chief Executive Officer & Founder

With more than 25 years’ experience in patient care, diagnostics and research for patients suffering from mitochondrial disease, Jan is the Founder and CEO of Khondrion. He also holds a position as Professor in Mitochondrial Medicine at the Radboud University Medical Center (RUMC) in the Netherlands and has been appointed foreign adjunct professor at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden. Until May 2020, he coordinated the Radboud Center for Mitochondrial Medicine (RCMM), which he founded in 1996, at the Radboud UMC. He has coordinated and has been actively involved in many multi-center National and International Mitochondrial Medicine consortia, published more than 400 peer-reviewed scientific papers, and supervised more than 25 PhD students. Several of his PhD students have become Professors in international medical research centers. In 2016, Jan was honored with the highly prestigious Knight in the Order of the Dutch Lion in view of his services to mitochondrial medicine.


Dr. Herma Renkema

Chief Scientific Officer

Dr Renkema, who joined Khondrion as a Scientist in 2016, is responsible for overseeing Khondrion’s broad preclinical strategy with regard to the medical operations of the Company. Dr. Renkema is a specialist in medical biology with extensive experience in mitochondrial biochemistry having previously held positions at the University of Amsterdam, the Institute of Medical Technology in Tampere, Finland, and the RadboudUMC, Nijmegen. She has a PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Amsterdam and has contributed to over 40 publications on mitochondrial function and disease.

our team

Khondrion’s team members bring a wealth of expertise in mitochondrial disease research and preclinical and clinical drug development.

Khondrion is supported by a team of corporate, strategic and legal advisors that complements its expertise and facilitate the work.

our scientific advisory board

Sir Prof. Dr. Emeritus Doug Turnbull (Chairman)

Professor of Neurology, Newcastle University

Dr. Turnbull started his research on mitochondria and disease as a junior doctor when he became interested in why a patient developed muscle pain during exercise. He completed his PhD studies focusing on understanding the molecular mechanisms in mitochondrial disease while completing an MD focusing on the affects of the anticonvulsant drug sodium valproate on mitochondria.

 On completion of his research degree, Dr. Turnbull became a Lecturer in Experimental Neurology and continued his research into mitochondrial disease. He became Professor of Neurology at Newcastle University in 1990, which allowed him to develop  clinical and molecular studies of mitochondrial disease. Building upon research which started over two decades ago Dr. Turnbull and his team have been able to build the Wellcome Centre for Mitochondrial Research along with a world class clinical service for patients.

Dr. Turnbull was previously the national lead for the NHS National Highly Specialized Services for Rare Mitochondrial Diseases of Children and Adults.


Prof. Dr. Marni Falk

Executive Director, CHOP Mitochondrial Medicine Frontier  Program and Professor, Division of Human Genetics, Department of Pediatrics, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine

Dr. Falk is a Clinical Geneticist who serves as executive director of the CHOP Mitochondrial Medicine Frontier Program. She is the principal investigator of an active National Institutes of Health-, pharma-, and philanthropic-funded translational research laboratory that investigates the causes and global metabolic consequences of mitochondrial disease, as well as targeted therapies, in C. elegans, zebrafish, mouse, and human tissue models of genetic-based respiratory chain dysfunction. Dr. Falk is also PI on clinical trials to better characterize and test candidate therapies in patients living with mitochondrial disease.

The Mitochondrial Medicine Research Group, under Dr. Falk’s direction, works to improve clinical care, diagnostic approaches, improved therapies, and robust genomic and bioinformatics resources for mitochondrial disease. In particular, the group organizes the global Mitochondrial Disease Sequence Data Resource (MSeqDR) Consortium to provide centralized curation and analytic capabilities for genomic analysis tools and integrated knowledge of genes, variants, and phenotypes relevant to mitochondrial disease.

Prof. Dr. Michelangelo Mancuso

Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Neurological Institute, University of Pisa; Chair, Neurogenetics and Rare Diseases Panel – Italian Society of Neurology; Chair, Neurogenetics Panel of the European Academy of Neurology

Mancuso conducts research specifically in the field of mitochondrial, neuromuscular and neurodegenerative dieseases. Sectors of interest include: epidemiological and clinical-molecular correlation studies in muscular pathologies, investigations of genotype-phenotype interrelationships and physiopathology of metabolic alterations in mitochondrial diseases, assessment of biological and genetic markers in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Azheimer’s disease, and other genetic neuromuscular and neurodegenerative disorders. Dr. Mancuso is co-responsible for biochemical studies on the respiratory chain, has performed research on muscle specimens specifically in relation to diagnostic approaches to mitochondrial disorders, and for genetic and molecular studies in the Laboratory of Clinical Neurobiology and Neurochemistry, Neurological Clinic, Department of Neuroscience (Pisa). He also directs the Clinical Neurogenetic Service of the Neurological Institute of Pisa.

Dr. Mancuso has studied the role of oxidative stress in mitochondrial disorders and the role of Coenzyme Q10 in neuromuscular disease. Results of his research activity have been presented in national and international congresses and has been published in more than 130 papers on peer-reviewed Life Science cited journals.

Prof. Dr. Akira Ohtake

Auditor, Japan Pediatric Society; Chairmain, IRB; Vice-president, Centre for Intractable Diseases, Department of Paediatrics & Clnical Genomics, Faculty of Medicine, Saitama Medical University

Professor Akira Ohtake received his M.D. from Chiba University School of Medicine in 1979 and received training as a general pediatrician at the Department of Pediatrics, Chiba University Hospital. He joined the Department of Biochemistry, Chiba University School of Medicine from 1982 to 1984, and Institute for Medical Genetics, Kumamoto University Medical School in 1987, where he learned about Inherited Metabolic Diseases, especially Urea Cycle Disorders. After receiving a Ph.D. from Chiba University School of Medicine in 1988, he became held the position of Lecturer in the Department of Pediatrics, Chiba University School of Medicine from 1988 to 1992. Afterwards, Dr. Ohtake moved to the Department of Clinical Genetics, The Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Medical Science from 1992 to 1994 as a Principal Investigator, focusing his work on Fatty Acid Oxidation Defects.

In 1994, Dr. Ohtake moved to the Department of Pediatrics, Saitama Medical University as an Assistant Professor. On leave from Saitama Medical University, he joined the Department of Biochemistry, La Trobe University, Bundoora, Victoria, Australia from 2002 to 2003, where he learned about mitochondrial diseases under Dr. Mike T Ryan and Dr. David R Thorburn. Upon his return to Japan, he began research about the molecular basis of mitochondrial respiratory chain disorders with Prof. Yasushi Okazaki and Dr. Kei Murayama, during which time they identified over 10 novel disease causative genes (PLoS Genet 2016). Dr. Ohtake became a professor in the Department of Pediatrics, Saitama Medical University in 2007, and proceeded to double as a vice-president at the Centre for Intractable Diseases in 2015 and as a professor within the Department of Clinical Genomics in 2019.


Prof. Dr. Shamima Rahman

Professor of Paediatric Metabolic Medicine, UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health

Professor Shamima Rahman holds an honorary consultant appointments at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) and the National Hospital for Neurology, London, where she sees children and adults affected by mitochondrial diseases as part of the NHS Specialized National Clinical Service for Rare Mitochondrial Disorders.

Professor Rahman trained in medicine at the University of Oxford and in Paediatrics at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Bristol, and GOSH, before taking up a Royal Children’s Hospital Research Foundation Scholarship at the Murdoch Institute, Melbourne, Australia. 

On returning to England in 1994 she completed paediatric training at the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, prior to a Medical Research Council Clinical Training Fellowship at the UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health (ICH), to undertake a PhD entitled ‘The Molecular Basis of Cytochrome Oxidase Deficiency in Childhood’. In 2000, she completed specialist training in paediatric metabolic medicine during a Clinical Lectureship at the ICH.

In 2006 Professor Rahman was awarded a DH/HEFCE Best Research for Best Health Clinical Senior Lectureship. 

Prof. Dr. Anu Suomalainen Wartiovaara

Academy Professor in Clinical Molecular Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Helsinki; Chief Physician, HUSlab Helsinki University Hospital, Helsinki Finland

Dr. Anu Suomalainen Wartiovaara is Sigrid Jusélius Professor of Molecular Medicine at the University of Helsinki and the director of the Molecular Neurology Research Program at the Biomedicum-Helsinki Research Institute. She trained at the University of Helsinki, as well as in Columbia University in New York City and McGill University in Montreal. She has also served as a visiting professor at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research group which focuses on the combination of basic biologica approaches to clarify molecular pathogenesis of disease belongs to the FinMIT Centre of Excellence of the Academy of Finland.

Dr. Suomalainen Wartiovaara’s scientific mission is to develop cures for progressive mitochondrial disorders of the brain and muscle that are currently untreatable. To achieve this goal, her group has generated a wide selection of disease models, both model organisms and human materials, and utilise these to clarify molecular pathogenesis. Their recent data shows that primary mitochondrial dysfunction modifies major biosynthetic pathways in the cytoplasm and affect cell differentiation pathways and genome maintenance in cell-autonomous and non-autonomous manners. The pathways have relevance for neurodegenerative disorders and offer variable targets for intervention.



Khondrion is supported by a group of strategic supporters including the Dutch Foundations Energy4All, Join4Energy, Road4Energy, Ride4Kids, Tim Foundation, and Zeldzame Ziekten Fonds, Khondrion has also received funding from National and European Governments, including from the EU Horizon 2020 SME Instrument phase 2 program and EFRO (Europees Fonds voor Regionale Ontwikkeling) of the European Union.

EU Horizon 2020 SME grant

In July 2018, Khondrion was awarded €2.3M from the highly competitive EU Horizon 2020 SME instrument program (grant agreement nr 830115). The Khon2btreat grant will be used for the execution of a phase 2b dose-finding clinical trial with KH176 in adults with mitochondrial disease and the delivery of the milestones allowing for financing of the pivotal Phase 3 clinical trial for market approval.