Human Longevity CEO Out After 11 Months on the Job

Executive

There’s been a major shakeup in the executive team at Human Longevity Inc., a company co-founded by famed geneticist J. Craig Venter.

The company’s chief executive officer, Cynthia Collins, has stepped down, to be replaced by Venter. In addition, Saturnino (Nino) Fanlo, the company’s chief financial officer, will become chief operations officer. In addition, the company’s chief operating officer, chief medical officer, and head of oncology have stepped down, according to Fortune. A company spokesperson confirmed the additional departures, but did not provide details. Fortune writes, “The reason for the shakeup is unclear, but sources tell Fortune the changes took place while the company was on the verge of launching a fundraise.”

In its statement, Human Longevity indicates it is “streamlining its efforts to focus on the Health Nucleus platform, the clinical research arm of HLI designed for early screening and detection of major diseases.”

Human Longevity calls itself a health intelligence company, having developed what it dubs the world’s largest database of sequenced genomes and phenotypic (physical traits) data. The company’s service involves a physician-ordered genomic sequencing, which is then compared to known genetic risk factors.

Venter is best known for leading a private effort to beat the government-led Human Genome Project, the first effort to sequence the human genome. He founded Celera Genomics, The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR) and the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI).

“Since our inception, HLI has pursued the applications of pioneering genomics, advanced imaging and robust machine learning to generate a more insightful picture of human health than available anywhere else, and I am proud of the impact we’ve had on lives of our clients to date,” Venter said in a statement. “We are at a pivotal point where refocusing our efforts and our strong team will allow us to continue to drive this positive impact on health more broadly.”

Cynthia Collins was appointed chief executive officer in January. Before joining Human Longevity, she was chief executive officer and general manager of GE Healthcare's In Vitro Diagnostics, Research & Applied Markets, and Cell Therapy from October 2013 to December 2016. She was the president and chief executive officer of GenVec from 2012 to 2013, a consultant with Terumo BCT and before that, group vice president of Cellular Analysis for Beckman Coulter.

To date, Human Longevity has raised more than $300 million from investors. Those investors include GE Ventures, Illumina and Celgene.

In June, the company signed a deal with Merck KGaA, in Darmstadt, Germany, to form a joint pilot project to identify biomarkers for treatment response in patients with advanced melanoma. No financial terms were disclosed.

“Our agreement with Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany will enable us to work together to discover novel insights that improve patient survival in melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer,” Collins said in a statement at the time. “With more than 230,000 new cases of melanoma diagnosed worldwide each year, and rates on the rise for the last 30 years, we believe our first pilot program is of great importance for society and look forward to working with Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany to impact the treatment of melanoma.”

 

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