Menlo Park, California-based GRAIL Inc, a life sciences company focused on detecting cancer early when it can be cured, has named Jennifer Cook as CEO. Her appointment becomes effective January 2, 2018. Bill Rastetter, the interim CEO since August 2017, will continue as chairman of the board of directors. And GRAIL has added Catherine Friedman and Min Cui to its board of directors. GRAIL’s backers include ARCH Venture Partners, Amazon, Bezos Expeditions, Bill Gates, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Celgene, Decheng Capital, GV, Illumina, Johnson & Johnson Innovation, Merck, McKesson Ventures, Sutter Hill Ventures, Tencent and Varian Medical Systems.
MENLO PARK, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–GRAIL, Inc., a life sciences company whose mission is to detect cancer early when it can be cured, today announced the appointment of Jennifer Cook as chief executive officer, effective January 2, 2018. Bill Rastetter, who has been acting as interim chief executive officer since August 2017, will continue in his role as chairman of the Board of Directors, focusing on governance of the company. The company also announced the appointment of Catherine Friedman and Min Cui to its Board of Directors.
“Jennifer is an outstanding leader who brings a wealth of experience from the life sciences industry and we are thrilled she is joining GRAIL. She is recognized for her ability to build and lead organizations, with a talent for bringing out the best in people, and for strategic development and commercialization of product portfolios,” said Bill Rastetter. “While I will be stepping back into my role as chairman, I remain highly committed to GRAIL and am confident that under Jennifer’s leadership this talented team will succeed in its goals of delivering early detection products to people globally.”
“I am honored to be joining GRAIL and to work alongside Bill and the other exceptional leaders and employees at the company,” said Jennifer Cook. “GRAIL has made great progress in the two years since its formation. I am excited to join the team as the company moves into a pivotal year when it is poised to start delivering insights from its clinical studies and begin commercialization.”
As chief executive officer, Ms. Cook will serve on GRAIL’s Board. GRAIL has also appointed two additional seasoned executives to its Board of Directors, Catherine Friedman and Min Cui, further broadening the industry experience and operational excellence across the Board. Ms. Cook, Ms. Friedman and Dr. Cui join GRAIL’s existing board of directors: Bill Rastetter, Jeff Huber, Jose Baselga, Brook Byers, Kaye Foster, Richard Klausner and Robert Nelsen.
GRAIL is building its capabilities in Asia to develop tests for the early detection of cancers prevalent in the region. Based on the company’s collaboration with The Chinese University of Hong Kong, the first product will be launched in 2018 and will be a screening test for the early detection of nasopharyngeal cancer. Nasopharyngeal cancer is a type of cancer located near the upper throat and behind the nasal cavity. It has the highest incidence in middle-aged men in Southern China and Southeast Asia. The test will initially be launched in Hong Kong and subsequently other parts of Asia where nasopharyngeal cancer is prevalent.
GRAIL also continues to remain focused on enrolling its two large studies — the Circulating Cell-free Genome Atlas (CCGA) Study and the STRIVE Study. The company anticipates starting to deliver insights from CCGA in 2018.
About Jennifer Cook
Jennifer Cook joins GRAIL from Roche/Genentech where she is currently head of Clinical Operations in Product Development for Roche Pharmaceuticals, managing a clinical trial portfolio of more than 400 trials with 100,000 participants. Before that she was head of Region Europe for Roche Pharmaceuticals, where she was responsible for achieving the commercial success of Europe and leading more than 5,500 employees across the 28 countries of the region. Ms. Cook started her career at Genentech in early-stage research and subsequently held numerous senior management positions at the company covering the full lifecycle of product development and commercialization. Key positions included leading product portfolio management, a U.S. commercial business unit, and market development. In 2016, she was recognized for her contributions to the healthcare industry and inspirational leadership when she was named Woman of the Year by the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association. Ms. Cook holds a BA in human biology and MS in biology from Stanford University, as well as an MBA from the Haas School of Business at University of California, Berkeley.
About Catherine Friedman and Min Cui
Catherine Friedman has been an independent financial consultant serving public and private companies in the life sciences industry since 2006. Previously, Ms. Friedman held numerous executive positions during a 23-year investment banking career with Morgan Stanley, including managing director and head of West Coast Healthcare and co-head of the Biotechnology Practice. Ms. Friedman is a member of the Boards of Directors of Altaba (formerly Yahoo!), Innoviva and Radius Health. Ms. Friedman holds a BA in economics from Harvard University and an MBA from the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business.
Min Cui is the founder and managing director of Decheng Capital. He is a member of the Board of Directors of AccuraGen, Ariagen, ARMO BioSciences, CardioMed, EpimAb Biotherapeutics, GenapSys, GeneMDx, Ketai Medical, Levitas and SINOMED. Prior to founding Decheng Capital, Dr. Cui was an investment partner at Bay City Capital and director of Strategic Investment for the Southern Research Institute. Dr. Cui co-founded Pan Pacific Pharmaceuticals and Hucon Biopharmaceuticals. Dr. Cui received his PhD in cancer biology from Stanford University and his BS and MS in molecular biology from Peking University. Dr. Cui was also a co-founder of CNetwork, a San Francisco-based non-profit organization dedicated to serving Chinese communities in North America.
About GRAIL’s Clinical Research Program
GRAIL is conducting one of the largest clinical study programs ever pursued in genomic medicine in collaboration with leading community and academic medical centers. GRAIL has initiated two large-scale studies to date:
The CCGA Study is an observational study that will characterize the landscape of cell-free nucleic acid profiles in at least 7,000 people with cancer and 3,000 people who do not have cancer. Data from CCGA will be used to develop a deeper understanding of tumor biology and to develop models for distinguishing cancer mutations from non-cancer mutations.
The STRIVE Study is a longitudinal, prospective, observational cohort study that will evaluate a blood test for the early detection of breast cancer. The study is enrolling 120,000 women at the time of their screening mammogram. The study will also support development of tests for other cancers that affect women.
GRAIL is a life sciences company whose mission is to detect cancer early when it can be cured. GRAIL is using the power of high-intensity sequencing, population-scale clinical trials, and state of the art Computer Science and Data Science to enhance the scientific understanding of cancer biology and develop blood tests for early-stage cancer detection. The company’s funding was led by ARCH Venture Partners and includes Amazon, Bezos Expeditions, Bill Gates, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Celgene, Decheng Capital, GV, Illumina, Johnson & Johnson Innovation, Merck, McKesson Ventures, Sutter Hill Ventures, Tencent, Varian Medical Systems, and other financial partners. For more information, please visit www.grail.com.
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