Exscientia fires CEO Andrew Hopkins over 'inappropriate' relationships with 2 employees

AI drug hunter Exscientia has fired CEO Andrew Hopkins effective immediately after the board determined he had engaged in two personal relationships with employees that were deemed “inappropriate and inconsistent” with company values.

A search is underway for his replacement, according to an SEC document. In the meantime, Chief Scientific Officer Dave Hallett will step in as interim CEO, interim principal executive officer and executive director of the board.

The board conducted an investigation into Hopkins’ conduct using outside counsel. During that probe, they discovered that Board Chairman David Nicholson was aware of the relationships and “had addressed the situation directly, and with the involvement of other outside counsel, rather than in consultation with the board.”

Nicholson tendered his resignation on Feb. 12 after discussions with the board. A search for his replacement is also underway, with Elizabeth Crain serving in his place on an interim basis.

In a short news release, the company said that “Hopkins’ personal conduct did not impact Exscientia's consolidated financial statements or our internal controls over financial reporting.” His termination is unrelated to the company’s operational or financial performance, the statement added.

In January, Exscientia celebrated (PDF) Hopkins as he was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire by King Charles III.

The AI-focused biotech recently pared back its pipeline to focus on CDK7 and LSD1 oncology programs, while several other programs were discontinued or prepped for partnering.