54gene CEO Bows Out 2 Months after the Startup Sacked 30% of its Workforce

54gene CEO Bows Out 2 Months after the Startup Sacked 30% of its Workforce

54gene co-founder and CEO, Abasi Ene-Obong, has resigned as CEO of the US-based, African-focused health tech startup. Meanwhile, Teresia L. Bost, the company’s General Counsel, has been named interim CEO, according to an official statement from the three-year-old company. She will be supported by Chief Operating Officer, Delali Attipoe. Ene-Obong, on the other hand, will continue to work with the company as a Senior Advisor and will remain a member of the 54gene Board of Directors.

“Teresia and Delali bring decades of experience in building and scaling high-impact global pharma companies, and they also have deep insight into the workings of 54gene,” said Ene-Obong in an official statement. “I’m looking forward to seeing them take the company to the next level.”

Although the reason for Ene-Obong’s resignation is yet to be made public the firm’s recent struggles and the global economic downturn are likely to have played a role. Following the recent layoff, Ene-Obong was accused of financial impropriety, which was never proven.

This announcement comes less than a month after Ogochukwu Osifo, co-founder and vice president of engineering at 54gene, announced his departure from the company in a LinkedIn post. While no reason was given for  Ene-Obong’s resignation, Osifo stated in his post that he was leaving 54gene “to pursue other interests.”

What you should know about 54gene

According to the company, it will now concentrate on “its core mission of African genomics research and equalizing precision medicine.” In addition, the company plans to restructure its business across multiple departments and geographies, as well as conduct a second round of layoffs. 54gene laid off 95 employees in August as revenue from Covid-19 testing declined.

“Going forward, the primary focus will be on the company’s unique genomic research, which it has begun by further leveraging genomic datasets derived from 54gene’s state-of-the-art biobank, which currently houses over 130,000 unique patient samples and corresponding genomic data, all to position the company to make contributions to precision medicine and drug discovery.” This continues the meaningful work the company has invested in, whilst de-emphasizing the clinical diagnostic business line at this time,” the statement read.

54gene raised $25 million in a Series B round in September 2021, bringing the company’s total investment to more than $45 million since it was founded in 2019 by Abasi Ene-Obong. Y Combinator, Adjuvant Capital, and Cathay AfricInvest Innovation Fund are among the company’s investors.

Teresia Bost, 54gene’s new CEO, joined the company in 2021 as General Counsel, following a two-decade career as a corporate lawyer for companies such as Celgene and Jazz Pharmaceuticals.

Jenny Yip, 54gene Board Chair, commented on the development, saying, “While we continue to work closely with Abasi as he takes on a new role as Senior Advisor, we’re also excited to have Teresia Bost, in her role as Interim CEO, lead the company into its next phase.”