Quantum-Si taps founder Rothberg, prolific medtech entrepreneur, as interim CEO

Jonathan Rothberg, Ph.D., credited as an inventor of high-speed, next-generation DNA sequencing, has described himself as a “parallel” rather than a serial entrepreneur—by founding and overseeing multiple biotech and medtech startups at once.

Among the recent additions to his slate is Quantum-Si, developer of a next-generation protein sequencing platform powered by a semiconductor chip that’s able to analyze samples on a single-molecule basis.

Now, several years after founding Quantum-Si in 2014, Rothberg has taken over as interim CEO as the company searches for a permanent replacement for John Stark, who had served as chief since November 2020. Rothberg’s appointment took effect Feb. 8, and the company didn’t disclose why Stark stepped down.

“We remain committed to the commercial launch of our groundbreaking technology in 2022,” Rothberg said in a statement. “Two years into a global pandemic, this technology is more important than ever. We need to fully understand our immune response to COVID-19 as well as other pathogens.”

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Rothberg kicked off his career as an entrepreneur more than two decades ago when he founded CuraGen Corporation in 1991.

In the ensuing years—among many other ventures—he started 454 Life Sciences, which offered low-cost genetic sequencing and was purchased by Roche in 2007; RainDance Technologies, with genomic tools for early cancer detection that were acquired by Bio-Rad in 2017; Butterfly Network, maker of hand-held, point-of-care ultrasound devices; and Hyperfine Research, which has received multiple FDA clearances for its portable MRI scanner-on-wheels.

Along the way, Rothberg received the National Medal of Technology and Innovation from President Barack Obama for his work developing next-gen DNA sequencing. He was also responsible for publishing the first entire individual human genome, was tapped as an adjunct professor of genetics at the Yale School of Medicine and, in 2014, launched the 4Catalyzer incubator program to grow Butterfly Network, Hyperfine, Quantum-Si and several more of the companies he’s founded.

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At Quantum-Si, Rothberg will lead the company’s charge to bring its proteomics technology to market. He previously held the chief executive role from December 2015 until Stark took over in late 2020 and has been executive chairman of the board since 2015.

His appointment follows Quantum-Si’s public debut. Last June, it sealed a reverse merger deal with special purpose acquisition company HighCape Capital that sent it to the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol “QSI.” The SPAC deal brought in more than $500 million for Quantum-Si to continue developing its technology.