Monday, December 5, 2022

54gene CEO steps down

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The news:

  • Abasi Ene-Obong, CEO and Co-founder of 54gene, steps down. Teresia L. Bost, 54gene’s General Counsel, will replace Ene-Obong as interim CEO.
  • The company recently laid off about 30% of its employees in August 2022 when its COVID-19 testing business slowed. 
  • 54gene plans to focus on unique genome research from now on as it intends to make significant contributions to precision medicine and drug discovery

Abasi Ene-Obong, CEO and Co-founder of African genomics company 54gene, has announced that he is stepping down from his role as CEO on Tuesday, October 25, 2022. 

This is coming almost a month after the company’s VP of engineering and Co-founder, Ogochukwu Francis Osifo, announced exiting the company to pursue other interests. 

According to a statement sent to Techpoint Africa, Ene-Obong, who founded the company in 2019, will continue to support the company in the role of Senior Advisor and retain his position on the 54gene Board of Directors.

54gene’s General Counsel, Teresia L. Bost, will immediately replace Ene-Obong as interim CEO. 

Although the former CEO did not reveal why he resigned from his position, the company’s recent struggles could be the reason. 

In August 2022, the company laid off 95 employees as its COVID testing business struggled after the pandemic in 2020. In addition to the layoffs, there were cases of financial misappropriation levelled against Ene-Obong and his executives. 

Per the statement, he said, “I am proud of what has been achieved at 54gene. I’d like to thank the 54gene Board for their support over the years and the many talented scientists and technology professionals I have had the pleasure to work with during my time at the company. I will continue to support the company and the scientific ecosystem, particularly the African genomics ecosystem.”

Ene-Obong’s successor, Bost, has served in executive roles across pharmaceutical and health companies in the US, such as Quartet Health and Jazz Pharmaceuticals. 

According to the statement, “she brings over 20 years of extensive knowledge and experience in leading global teams across pharmaceutical, biotechnology and healthcare industries.”

Meanwhile, the three-year-old company plans to focus on unique genomic research as it intends to make significant contributions to precision medicine and drug discovery. 

It will do this by leveraging its genomic datasets derived from 54gene’s biobank, that currently houses over 130,000 unique patient samples.

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