Name: Susan Tousi
New title: Chief Executive Officer, Delfi Diagnostics
Previous title: Chief Commercial Officer, Illumina
Susan Tousi has left Illumina to take up the CEO post at Delfi Diagnostics. The move puts Tousi in charge of commercializing the lead liquid biopsy from a company that could compete with Grail, the multi-cancer early detection test maker that Illumina plans to divest.
Delfi began commercializing a blood test that screens for lung cancer last year. The focus on single cancer early detection sets Delfi apart from Grail, which has developed a multi-cancer test, and gives it an early lead in a setting targeted by Freenome. Delfi outlined plans to work on multi-cancer early detection when it raised a $225 million financing round in 2022.
Appointing Tousi gives Delfi a leader with commercial experience. Tousi joined Illumina in 2012 and was promoted to chief commercial officer in 2021. At Illumina, where she spent six years as chief product officer, Tousi helped to launch products including the HiSeq X sequencer and led the acquisitions of Edico Genomics, BlueBee and Enancio.
The experience led Delfi’s board to identify Tousi as the right person to take the company forward, as Liz Homans, board chair at the liquid biopsy firm, explained in a statement.
"Susan is behind the engineering and launch of several of Illumina's most impactful, globally profitable products. This translatable expertise makes her the right fit to drive Delfi forward and lead the commercial strategy for the Firstlook Lung liquid biopsy test," Homans said.
Delfi founder Victor Velculescu, who oversaw the launch of the Firstlook Lung screening test, has vacated the CEO position. Velculescu, co-director of cancer genetics and epigenetics at Johns Hopkins University, will remain on Delfi’s board and guide its research and discovery portfolio.
Illumina said in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that Tousi left the company Friday. The genomics company has named Bas Verhoef, head of Europe, as interim chief commercial officer.
Tousi’s exit continues the turnover at the top of Illumina, which appointed a new CEO in September, and leaves the company without permanent commercial leadership following a third quarter in which it lowered guidance.