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uBiome Shakes Up Management; Launches Investigation Into Billing Practices

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Microbial genomics firm uBiome said today that it has placed Co-CEOs and Founders Jessica Richman and Zac Apte on administrative leave and launched an independent investigation into the company's billing practices.

John Rakow, the company's general counsel, has been appointed as interim CEO.

The management shakeup and investigation, which will be overseen by a special committee of the board, comes in the wake of an FBI search of the company's San Francisco office as part of an investigation into its billing practices.

"As interim CEO of uBiome, I want all of our stakeholders to know that we intend to cooperate fully with government authorities and private payors to satisfactorily resolve the questions that have been raised, and we will take any corrective actions that are needed to ensure we can become a stronger company better able to serve patients and healthcare providers," Rakow said in a statement.

"My confidence is based on the significant clinical evidence and medical literature that demonstrates the utility and value of uBiome's products as important tools for patients, healthcare providers, and our commercial partners," Rakow added. "We look forward to continuing to demonstrate this clinical utility and value at a time of growing demand in the market."

Founded in 2012 out of the University of California, San Francisco, uBiome uses sequencing, machine learning, and AI to develop wellness products, clinical tests, and therapeutic targets in its CLIA-certified laboratory.

Its products include SmartGut, a microbiome test for patients with chronic gut conditions; SmartJane, a women's health screening test that genotypes all 19 clinically relevant strains of human papillomavirus, identifies four common sexually transmitted diseases, and surveys more than 20 vaginal microbes associated with bacterial vaginosis; and Explorer, a health and wellness product focused on customers' food and lifestyle choices.

Earlier this year uBiome laid off almost a fifth of its employees as part of a strategic decision to focus more on therapeutic development and partnering with pharmaceutical companies.