Co-founder and CEO of Human Longevity Inc. (HLI), J. Craig Venter, made a surprise announcement on Wednesday that he would be stepping down as head of the genomics company. Venter’s replacement – Cynthia Collins – is set to take his place as of January 9, 2017.
Collins has extensive experience in the life science sector, with her most recent role being CEO/ General Manager for the Cell Therapy and Purification and Analysis Businesses for GE Healthcare. She will also join the HLI Board of Directors, which will continue to be led by Venter in his role as Executive Chairman.
“We are extremely pleased to have Cindy join HLI as our new CEO. Her wide-ranging experience in leading and growing commercial operations for privately-held and publicly-traded life science businesses, will be invaluable to HLI,” said Venter in a press release about the change in leadership. “2017 will be a key year for HLI with the launch and expansion of many of our products including oncology, whole genome, HLI Knowledgebase™, HLI Search™, and the HLI Health Nucleus™. Cindy’s combination of innovative business leadership, coupled with commercialization and operations acumen in a variety of life science arenas, is the perfect skill set to bring our vision of high quality, genomic-powered products to the global marketplace.”
Just one month ago, Venter revealed that genomic tests conducted at his health clinic, Health Nucleus, identified the presence of prostate cancer. Due to the predicted aggressiveness of the disease, Venter underwent prostate surgery.
According to Venter, his levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) protein were not elevated, and there were no other indications that he might have prostate cancer. A spokesperson for the company said Venter’s health was not a factor in the decision.
“HLI represents a tremendous opportunity to change healthcare and improve patient outcomes,” said Collins. “I cannot imagine a more perfect union of my combined experience in diagnostics, therapeutics, and life sciences and in leading organizations through multiple phases of their life cycles to create value. I believe my capabilities and experience, combined with Dr. Venter’s scientific success and vision, are highly complementary and will create a solid foundation for HLI’s future.”
Venter’s genome was the first human genome to be published in its entirety in 2007. HLI aims to use its comprehensive database of genomic, phenotypic and clinical data to make novel discoveries in medicine.