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Illumina Adds Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb to Its Board of Directors

By Brian Orelli, PhD – Updated Feb 10, 2020 at 1:01PM

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The move should be helpful as the DNA-sequencing specialist develops diagnostic tests that require his former agency's approval.

As Illumina (ILMN -4.37%) moves more into the clinical diagnosis space, the DNA-sequencing specialist has made a big addition to its board of directors: Scott Gottlieb, a former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration. Gottlieb is currently a special partner at the venture capital firm New Enterprise Associates as well as a resident fellow at  the American Enterprise Institute, a public policy think tank.

Scott Gottlieb

Scott Gottlieb. Image source: Business Wire.

Illumina wanted Gottlieb so badly, it expanded its board to 10 members in order to accommodate the former FDA chief. Illumina isn't the first healthcare company to snag Gottlieb. He also serves on the boards of Pfizer, privately held Aetion, and a think tank called FasterCures.

For years, Illumina has sold DNA-sequencing machines and reagents primarily to researchers, but the company has steadily moved in the direction of using the technique for diagnostic purposes.

It still has a stake in spinoff Grail, which is developing blood tests to detect cancer. And last year, Illumina teamed up with Qiagen (QGEN -0.89%), convincing the company to ditch its own next-generation sequencing system in favor of Illumina's systems.

Last month, Illumina struck a 15-year deal with Roche to develop and distribute diagnostic tests on its NextSeq 550Dx System. Roche also has the option to develop tests on future diagnostic sequencing systems that Illumina may develop. Roche will start with developing its Avenio cancer tests for the system, and the duo plan to develop companion diagnostic tests for Roche's drugs.

As Illumina continues to develop products that will need FDA approval, having Gottlieb on the board to offer insight will certainly be helpful.

Brian Orelli has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Illumina. The Motley Fool recommends Qiagen N.V. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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