African genomics research company 54gene ceases operations

By : Adoni Conrad Quenum

Date : vendredi, 29 septembre 2023 17:11

The healthtech startup is taking that difficult decision four years after its creation with some $45 million in funding attracted and numerous strategic partnerships. 

For several days now, startup 54gene's website has been inaccessible. According to sources close to the company quoted by Nigerian media outlet Techcabal, the company is winding down operations. The process, initiated in July 2023, was prompted by financial challenges and internal conflicts.

In early 2023, Abasi Ene-Obong, the figurehead of healthtech specializing in genomic research, tendered his resignation following accusations of financial malfeasance. Ron Chiarello, who was appointed in March 2023 to replace him, left three months later. Last July, he said the company “could not continue to operate financially.”

Founded in 2019 by Abasi Ene-Obong, Damilola Oni, Gatumi Aliyu, and Ogochukwu Francis Osifo, 54gene had a grand ambition: to bridge the genomics research gap in Africa with the aim of discovering new healthcare solutions for the continent's populations and those of African descent. Strategic collaborations have been initiated to this end.

In May 2022, 54gene signed a memorandum of understanding with the Académie Nationale des sciences et techniques du Sénégal (ANSTS), the human genetics department of the Faculty of Medicine, Pharmacy and Odonto-stomatology at Dakar's Cheikh Anta Diop University. The aim of the collaboration was to gain a better understanding of hereditary diseases and improve medical monitoring of the Senegalese population.

SEN-GENOME, a study of the genetic heritage of populations, was scheduled to start in July 2022. It was to trace the history of Senegalese populations and identify genetic risk factors for diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, certain infectious diseases, and rare genetic diseases. Initial results were expected in December 2023. 

This research will probably be concluded by the Senegalese party unless Abasi Ene-Obong, the former CEO of 54gene who had materialized this cooperation, takes it over. On September 15, on social media, he announced the launch of his new company Syndicate Bio. This company is also focused on genomic research and precision medicine.

Adoni Conrad Quenum


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