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Illumina CEO Francis deSouza Resigns

NEW YORK – Illumina said on Sunday morning that CEO Francis deSouza has resigned, effective immediately.

Charles Dadswell, the firm's senior VP and general counsel, has been named interim CEO while Illumina's board of directors conducts a search for a new CEO among internal and external candidates. DeSouza will continue to serve “in an advisory capacity” until July 31.

Stephen MacMillan, Illumina's recently elected board chairman and Hologic's CEO, thanked deSouza "for his contributions and leadership," adding that "we are confident Illumina can continue to execute on its goals while we conduct and complete a CEO search process."

DeSouza, who became Illumina's president in late 2013 and CEO in 2016, had been under pressure from activist investor Carl Icahn since March over his handling of Illumina's acquisition of cancer liquid biopsy firm Grail. Last month, Illumina shareholders voted to replace Board Chairman John Thompson with Andrew Teno, a candidate backed by Icahn, but reelected deSouza and Robert Epstein, who Icahn had also sought to replace.

In a letter to Illumina employees published on LinkedIn on Sunday, deSouza reflected on his 10 years with the company, saying that he helped transform a "leader in research genomics" into "the world's leading clinical genomics company" that derives about half of its revenues from clinical markets, including noninvasive prenatal testing, cancer therapy testing, and genetic disease testing.

"My belief in the potential of Grail's potentially life-saving technology and the benefits of merging it with Illumina remains unshakeable," he wrote, pushing back against regulators in the US and in Europe, as well as Icahn and other investors, who have been objecting to the deal.

Going forward, he said he will "stay true to the mission of advancing humanity by harnessing breakthrough technologies," as well as spend more time with his two daughters.

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