54gene, a Nigerian biotech startup, has raised $15 million in Series A funding. This round brings 54gene to $19.5 million in total funding following a $4.5 seed round last year.
This round was led by Adjuvant Capital, Novartis, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. There is also participation from Raba Capital, V8 Capital, Ingressive Capital, and follow-on investment from Y Combinator, Better Ventures, Fifty Years, KdT Ventures, Aera VC and Pioneer Fund.
Launched in January 2019 by Abasi Ene-Obong (CEO), Damilola Oni, Gatumi Aliyu and Ogochukwu Francis Osifo, the startup offers testing and molecular diagnostics services to Africans. The startup which currently works with over 300 researchers, clinicians and geneticists across Africa has also built an African biobank.
This biobank contains African genetic data sets to make landmark discoveries in support of therapeutic development by researchers.
With this new funding, 54gene has announced that it will be scaling its operations in support of generating novel insights from human genetics research. The investment will also be used to accelerate discovery capabilities by bolstering operations in genetics, bioinformatics, preclinical, clinical and commercial programs.
And with better access to African genetic datasets by researchers, there will be an improvement in the development of medical products that will prove beneficial to Africans and the wider global population.
“This funding comes at a historically meaningful time, allowing us to deliver global impact through continued investment in research and strategic partnerships with leaders in the biomedical industry. We want to support the crucial work of our partners in Africa while improving global health and are committed to promoting a safe, ethical and beneficial research practice.”Dr. Ene-Obong, Founder and CEO, 54gene.
Also as part of its next stage of growth, the company will further explore partnerships with several health sector players for clinical programs in Africa. This initiative will be led by 54gene’s newly appointed Vice President of Clinical & Regulatory Affairs, Kemi Williams.
The startup has also launched a Scientific Advisory Board (SAB), composed of global leaders in clinical genetics, bioinformatics and data science. They include; Michael F. Murray MD, Director of Clinical Operations, Center for Genomic Health Professor Dept of Genetics, Yale School of Medicine and Manuel Rivas PhD, Assistant Professor at Stanford University.
Others are Greg Hinkle PhD, VP Research Informatics, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals and Jeff Hammerbacher, Founder and General Partner, Related Sciences.
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