Home Startups Nigeria’s genomics startup 54gene gets new CEO as the firm moves to raise additional growth capital

Nigeria’s genomics startup 54gene gets new CEO as the firm moves to raise additional growth capital

by James Musoba
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 Ron Chiarello, PhD, has been appointed CEO after serving as co-CEO of 54gene, Inc. a health data technology company on a mission to transform racial disparity in genomics research data globally, as the firm positions itself to pursue new strategic partnerships and raise additional capital.

Chiarello was serving as co-CEO since earlier this year. He was previously founder, CEO, and Chairman of Alveo Technologies. He also founded Jetalon Solutions, Etalon Technologies, and Orion Metrology, and held research positions at Stanford University and Argonne National Laboratory.

Teresia Bost, who served as interim CEO since last October, will remain with the company as an advisor. Bost has over 20 years’ experience in health care and has held leadership roles at Celgene, Jazz Pharmaceuticals, and Quartet Health before joining 54gene. Bost took over after Dr. Abasi Ene-Obong stepped down in October last year as CEO of 54gene, the African genomics company he founded in 2019. Ene-Obong supported the company in the role of Senior Advisor and retained his position on the 54gene Board of Directors. 

“We appreciate the tremendous contributions Teresia has made to the company and are enthused to have strong and experienced leaders helping move the company forward,” said Jenny Yip, Board Chair of 54gene and Managing Partner at Adjuvant Capital. “We have great trust and confidence in the vision and discipline Ron brings to his elevated role and are grateful to add Tobi’s deep investment experience and expertise in Africa to our board.”

Teresia Bost

Tobi Oke, Managing Partner of V8 Capital Partners, an African enterprise tech venture capital fund based in Lagos, Nigeria, has been appointed to 54gene’s Board of Directors. Prior to founding V8 Capital, Oke worked as the head of Intel Capital (Africa) and in leadership roles with Standard Chartered Private Equity, HSBC, and Booz Allen.

Temi Awogboro, Founding Partner of Alcent Capital and Co-Founder of Kairos Angels, and MAGIC, venture capital funds investing globally with a portfolio in Africa, will serve as an advisor and Board of Directors observer. Awogboro previously was Executive Director of TPG portfolio company Evercare Hospital Lekki and regional lead with Evercare Health Fund. She began her career at Goldman Sachs.

“54gene is solving the issue of racial disparity in genomics data and paving the way for more inclusive healthcare outcomes,” said Oke. “With committed investors and partners in Africa and globally, we are solely focused on 54gene’s original mission and building a distinct and unprecedented platform in its diversity and scale.”

54gene aims to significantly improve the inclusion of data from African populations in genomics research. Most genomic data used for development research today is from Europe and North America, while less than 3% is from Africa. Increasing access to genomic data from African populations will improve the effectiveness and relevance of products to the health of African people and power therapeutic discoveries benefiting all populations.

The company’s 600,000-sample capacity biobank, which already holds 130,000 samples, is the largest commercial biobank in Africa and one of the most diverse in the world. Through its robust partner and clinical network on the continent, 54gene has access to millions of patients to support its mission. To date, the company has raised $45 million dollars from leading investors including Adjuvant Capital, V8 Capital, KdT Ventures, and Cathay AfricInvest Innovation Fund.

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