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Illumina, the largest maker of DNA-sequencing technology and a storied name in the biotechnology industry, named Jacob Thaysen, a 10-year-veteran at life sciences-tools firm Agilent, as its new CEO.

The appointment follows a bitter board fight that ended with the departure of Francis deSouza, who had been Illumina’s CEO since 2016. The battle, tipped off by Illumina’s troubled acquisition of cancer diagnostics firm Grail, had involved a proxy fight staged by activist investor Carl Icahn.


During the battle, there had been speculation that Jay Flatley, deSouza’s predecessor, could return. Under Flatley, Illumina had grown from an upstart to the dominant player in a field that has proved pivotal for medical research and delivered sizable returns to investors.

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