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TwinStrand CEO and co-founder steps down from Seattle biotech startup amid reported layoffs

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Jesse Salk, co-founder of TwinStrand. (TwinStrand Photo)

TwinStrand Biosciences’ co-founder Jesse Salk has stepped down from the CEO role, according to a statement issued by the Seattle biotech company Friday.

Salk will remain as chief scientific officer and a member of the board. Healthcare industry veteran Chad Brown, a former exec at Nanostring and Qiagen, has stepped in as interim CEO. Brown is also a board member at TwinStrand.

The leadership change comes amid reports of layoffs at the 7-year-old gene sequencing startup. Several employees posted on LinkedIn this week about being laid off, with some noting that “nearly 50%” of the company’s workforce was cut.

The company has more than 100 employees, according to LinkedIn.

We’ve reached out to TwinStrand for more details and we’ll update when we hear back. Update: TwinStrand declined to comment on the reported layoffs.

TwinStrand, which spun out of the University of Washington, raised $50 million in a Series B round in May 2021. At the time, the startup had 50 employees.

The company develops technology in both gene sequencing and analysis. Its approach leverages a method called duplex sequencing that independently tracks the sequence of both strands of DNA. The method is designed to yield fewer errors than more conventional sequencing techniques that assess one strand of the double-stranded code.

In 2020, the company launched its first commercial products.

TwinStrand investors include California-based Section 32, which led the Series B round, along with Soleus Capital, Janus Henderson Investors, Madrona Venture Group, Ridgeback Capital, and Alexandria Venture Investments.

The company earlier this year hired Goran Pljevaljcic, former Bionano Genomics exec, as chief commercial officer.

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Salk is also a clinical assistant professor at the UW, and is an attending physician at the VA Puget Sound in Seattle. He holds an MD/PhD with honors from the UW. Salk is the grandson of the late Jonas Salk, the scientist who discovered and developed the polio vaccine.

Several Seattle-area startups have laid off employees this year amid the broader economic downturn and slowdown in venture capital funding.

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