54gene Secures $25 Million In A Series B Round To Enable Drug Discovery In Africa


Sept. 20, 2021, 3:20 p.m.

54gene, a health technology company with operations in Nigeria and the US, has secured $25 million in Series B funding to bolster its efforts to bridge the divide in the global genomics market.

This round comes a year after the company raised $15 million in Series A and two years after closing a $4.5 million seed round.

Pan-African venture capital firm Cathay AfricInvest Innovation Fund led this round. Lead investor from the company’s Series A funding, Adjuvant Capital, invested once again with participation from other VCs including KdT Ventures, Plexo Capital, Endeavor Catalyst, and Ingressive Capital.

Founded in January 2019 by Abasi Ene-Obong (CEO), Damilola Oni, Gatumi Aliyu, and Ogochukwu Francis Osifo, 54Gene offers drug discovery, clinical development, and molecular diagnostics services to Africans.

With the world’s analyzed genomes coming mostly from anywhere that is not Africa, the continent remains a valuable source of new genetic information for health and drug discovery research.

The company conducts and leverages this research to ensure Africans are recipients of upcoming drug and medical discoveries.

Aside from expanding its capabilities in sequencing, target identification, and validation, the startup says the new capital raised will also be deployed for precision medicine clinical trials enabling drug discovery in Africa for both Africans and the global population.

“It’s truly incredible to witness the impact of African scientists in global research and it is critical to global health that this continues,” CEO, Abasi Ene-Obong said. “We want to scale our contribution to global drug discovery by extensively developing life science capabilities on the continent and this additional capital will catalyze our endeavors.”

Furthermore, the new capital will pave the way for the company to expand across the African continent.

54gene will have to sign off partnerships to aid this expansion. A recent partnership was made between the company and the Tanzania Human Genetics Organization and Ene-Obong says 54gene is in varying stages of conversations with more partners. However, he was tight-lipped on who they might be.

To achieve its goals, the startup has made some strategic senior appointments by bringing in new team members with world-class exposure and experience.

Colm O’Dushlaine formerly of Regeneron Genetic Center and the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT joins as Vice President – Genomics and Data Science.

Teresia Bost, General Counsel, joins the company with over 20 years experience in healthcare where she’s held various senior counsel roles at Celgene, was VP & Associate General Counsel at Jazz Pharmaceuticals, and General Counsel at Quartet Health.

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Jude Uzonwanne, Chief Business Officer, was formerly a partner at IQVIA, ZS Associates, and held multiple roles at the Monitor Group, Bain and Company, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Peter Fekkes, Vice President – Drug Discovery, developed and led drug discovery programs at Novartis, FogPharma, and H3 Biosciences.

Jude Uzonwanne who was formerly a partner at IQVIA, ZS Associates and held multiple roles at the Monitor Group, Bain and Company, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation joins the team as Chief Business Officer.

Speaking on the new senior appointments, Ene-Obong said the partners were brought in to keep the company true to its mission of equalizing healthcare. He said the partners can help the company replicate its success throughout Africa.

“We believe the world will benefit from an African global drug discovery company that leverages the deep insights found in genomics research in diverse populations and ensures true equity for the African population. It’s exciting to see our company shift into the next gear as it targets becoming one of the top global companies in genomics research,” he said.


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Verny loves to write poetry, fiction and quotes. Her love for writing landed her in journalism. She loves gadgets and travelling to explore new places.