Dr. Maria
Chatzou Dunford

Year of Selection



Biotechnology Research





Lifebit solves one of the largest problems that governments and large pharma companies face: the fact that most genomic, phenotypic, and clinical data is non-usable as it is siloed, complex, and non-standardized. Estimates suggest that just 3% of all data is currently tagged and ready for manipulation, and only one-sixth of this (0.5%) is currently used for analysis. Lifebit’s technology creates new collective understandings from this complex distributed data on an operating system. 


Dr Maria Chatzou Dunford is a thought leader who has revolutionised the analysis of big data to advance precision medicine, with deep expertise in bioinformatics, medical informatics and high-performance computing.

Maria started her career as a researcher in SciLifeLab, a world-leading Swedish national centre for large-scale research. Here, she developed and implemented pipelines for interpreting and analysing data stemming from high-throughput experiments. She implemented a web server called Elude – a bioinformatics software used for retention time prediction for mass-spectrometry data and developed specialised bioinformatics software using machine learning techniques.

With a PhD in Biomedicine from Pompeu Fabra University, Maria had a high impact on research, developing novel methods for large-scale analyses of clinical-genomic data. Maria co-invented Nextflow, a bioinformatics workflow management system published in Nature Biotech that has become the industry standard for coding high-performance bioinformatics pipelines.

A passionate entrepreneur, Maria has founded two companies: Innovation Forum Barcelona and Lifebit. Co-founding Lifebit in 2017, Maria had a clear vision to solve the most significant bottleneck within the precision medicine industry, accessing and analysing siloed biomedical data effectively without compromising data security. Maria has led Lifebit to raise over $70 million in capital funding with investors, including Tiger Global Management, one of the largest global venture funds. Recently listed as a Top 100 future unicorn to watch by Financial Times’ Sifted, Maria has led Lifebit to be one of the industry’s biggest disruptors, securing contracts with high-profile clients across the life sciences sector, including Genomics England and Boehringer Ingelheim.

Maria’s leadership has seen her highlighted across a multitude of outlets, including Beauhurst’s “Top 50 Female Entrepreneurs to Watch for 2022”, Business Leader’s “Top 32 UK’s Biggest Exporters”, and Fortune Greece’s Top “40 under 40”. A frequent speaker at international conferences such as BioData World and a guest with high-profile outlets like The Economist and TechCrunch, Maria is a thought leader who is changing the face of precision medicine.

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