Venter to leave Human Longevity as turnover at the top continues

Craig Venter (Wikipedia/CC BY 2.5)

Craig Venter, Ph.D., is leaving Human Longevity Inc. Venter’s decision to step down as CEO and return to research at the J. Craig Venter Institute continues the turnover at the top of HLI, which has now lost two CEOs and a CMO in the past six months.

Venter co-founded HLI to capitalize on the population-scale sequencing potential of Illumina’s HiSeq X Ten before going on to raise more than $300 million. Celgene, GE Ventures, Illumina and others piled the cash in to facilitate Venter’s vision of building a company with enough genomics data and other healthcare information to unlock the secrets of longer human lives.

Now, Venter is leaving the company. News of Venter’s departure comes five months after he was re-appointed as CEO. Venter stepped aside at the start of 2017 to allow former GE Healthcare executive Cynthia Collins to take over. The reshuffle saw Venter retain an active role in the direction of HLI as executive chairman. But his spell in the new job was short. 

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Collins left the company in December, resulting in Venter retaking the CEO post. The change was part of a string of departures at HLI. Brad Perkins, M.D., exited the CMO position the same month. With the changes coming months after Mark Winham ended his stint as COO, the departures of Collins and Perkins meant HLI lost three key members of its C-suite in less than one year.

Venter was a constant throughout the turmoil. The genome sequencing pioneer switched between the roles of CEO and executive chairman as Collins came and went but had a daily role and key say in HLI’s scientific strategy and direction throughout the time. 

Venter disclosed his departure on Twitter last week but is still listed as CEO of HLI on the company’s website. HLI is yet to appoint a successor for Venter and is yet to bring people in to replace Perkins and Winham. CFO Saturnino Fanlo added the COO role to his job description when Perkins left. Pamila Brar, M.D., who joined HLI to work on the Health Nucleus program, is listed as CMO.