The 54gene Story: Lessons For Healthcare Entrepreneurs And Leaders In Africa

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Ayinla Daniel Avatar

(Chief Editor)

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The global pharmaceutical industry is a $100 billion+ industry! 

This mammoth industry relies heavily on complex human data for research and drug development. 

Unfortunately, Africa only represents about 2% of the global genetic database. 

Is this a problem? 

Of course, it is. 

It means Africans are underrepresented in the global research pool for pharmaceutical research and drug development. 

Simply put, most of the drugs developed globally are designed with very little research data coming from the African continent, which interestingly has the most genetically diverse genome on the face of the earth. 

With the current revolutions in the world of genetic therapies, this also implies that a whole continent (and its diaspora) may be cut off from revolutionary new drugs and therapies. 

Why does the global scientific community neglect this? 

Well, many factors contribute to why the global scientific community continually neglect Africa. 

However, in 2019, someone stood up to bridge this huge gap! 

Dr Abasi Ene-Obong, a medical doctor turned entrepreneur, founded 54gene with the sole aim of building Africa’s first biobank.

A promising idea that shook the entire health-tech landscape in Africa, 54gene was positioned to singlehandedly revolutionise biotech on the African continent. 

Raising $45 million in three healthy funding rounds, the team at 54gene looked ready to transform the health-tech/biotech landscape in Africa and the world. 

But, it never lived to do that. 

In 2023, 54gene, a once-promising health-tech startup, announced the liquidation of its operations. 

In the latest edition of the Digital Health Report, we explore the 54gene story and pick out important lessons for health-tech entrepreneurs and leaders in Africa. 

Read exclusively In The Digital Health Report for free.

Ayinla Daniel Avatar

(Chief Editor)

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