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50 Best Workplaces of the Year 2022

A healthcare company focused on saving lives and improving health by pioneering new technologies for early cancer detection: GRAIL


According to the American Cancer Society, more than 600,000 people die from cancer each year in the U.S. This is in large part because the majority of cancers are found too late when outcomes are often poor. Recommended screening tests save lives, but only cover five cancer types in the U.S.: breast, colon, cervical, prostate, and, in high-risk smokers, lung. In fact, 71% of cancer deaths have no recommended screening at all. Treating cancer starts with knowing you have it, and GRAIL sees it as its greatest responsibility to be patients’ earliest ally. Globally, there are various companies delivering excellent solutions for early cancer detection, but GRAIL stands out from the rest.

GRAIL is a healthcare company with a mission to detect cancer early, when it can be cured. The company seeks to not only transform cancer detection, but to utilize its proprietary technology platform to revolutionize healthcare more broadly with GalleriTM, GRAIL’s multi-cancer early detection test. Galleri is a blood test that has demonstrated the ability to detect more than 50 types of cancer, with a low false-positive rate of less than 1%. When cancer is detected, Galleri can determine the cancer signal origin with high accuracy.

In conversation with Bob Ragusa, CEO of GRAIL

Q. Periods of waiting and anxiety when additional examinations are required are a major concern during cancer screening. How do you address this challenge?

We designed the Galleri testing process to be easy to use for physicians and patients. For those with a “cancer signal detected” result, our test report provides one or two cancer signal origin prediction(s), which helps providers determine the appropriate diagnostic evaluation. GRAIL is committed to helping support ordering providers in determining and conducting a patient’s diagnostic evaluation(s) following a “cancer signal detected” Galleri test result. GRAIL offers post-test services to support the diagnostic evaluation, including:

  • Positive Result Resource Center
  • Post-test support from GRAIL Medical Science Liaisons
  • Peer-to-peer consultations

For patients who receive a “no cancer signal detected” result, our test report will remind individuals of the value of cancer screening and to continue with their recommended standard-of-care cancer screenings.

A recent analysis of participant-reported outcomes of anxiety, distress, and satisfaction related to MCED testing from our PATHFINDER study were recently presented at the European Society of Medical Oncology (ESMO) Congress 2022. PATHFINDER participants completed patient-reported outcomes assessments before MCED testing, after receiving MCED test results, and at the end of the study. The analysis found 97.1% of participants reported a high level of satisfaction with the test, including those who had both true positive (92%) and false-positive (82.3%) results. As expected, a higher level of anxiety was seen in participants following a positive result, but that resolved to pre-MCED test levels within 12 months.

Q. ‘When people are having fun, they work together better and they produce better work.’ How do you interpret this saying?

Cultivating a fun work environment is a key element of employee happiness and mental wellbeing. Employees who genuinely enjoy their work are more productive, happier, and more successful. This increases self-confidence and inspires greater performance and success for both employee and employer. Positive, fully engaged employees help provide positive support and encouragement for collaborative projects and engagements. And happy employees are more likely to ask for support if it is needed.

At GRAIL, we value our company culture. Despite the challenges of the pandemic and so many employees still working remotely, we try to bring our team together frequently (and safely) for events, such as GRAIL day on the date of our founding, regular celebratory happy hours, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion events, and so much more. We have regular team building activities centered around doing good in our communities, such as organized GRAIL teams at philanthropic events and races.

Q. Do you have any new services ready to be launched?

Our team is working diligently to not only improve the Galleri test but to offer patients other options in cancer screening and care. We have a large innovation pipeline that we look forward to announcing in due time.

Q. What does the future hold for your company and its customers? Are exciting things on the way?

We will continue to build our real-world data. The Galleri clinical development program consists of studies that collectively include more than 335,000 participants—and what is believed to be the largest linked datasets of genomic and clinical data in the cancer field. GRAIL’s program includes the foundational CCGA development and validation study, the interventional PATHFINDER and PATHFINDER 2 studies, the NHS-Galleri randomized, controlled clinical study, the STRIVE and SUMMIT observational studies, and the REFLECTION real-world registry. The largest of these, the NHS-Galleri trial, has enrolled 140,000 participants in the UK with the primary objective of a reduction in late-stage cancer diagnoses, thought to be a necessary prerequisite for a mortality reduction. Additionally, as part of its work to change the trajectory of cancer, GRAIL is pursuing partnerships and initiatives that reach diverse and underserved populations that may be at high-risk for cancer. These activities all drive GRAIL’s mission to detect cancer early when it can be cured.

Meet the leader behind the success of GRAIL

Bob Ragusa is the CEO of GRAIL. Bob was previously Chief Operations Officer for Illumina where he was responsible for the company’s operations serving clinical and research customers. His organization included the global Manufacturing, Clinical Lab Services, Supply Chain, Quality, Life Cycle Management, Information Technology, and Global Facilities and Real Estate teams. Prior to joining Illumina, Bob was Executive Vice President of Engineering and Global Operations at Accuray, a radiation oncology company, where he and his team were responsible for the development, manufacturing and distribution of innovative precision treatment solutions. Bob served as Senior Vice President of Global Operations for Applied Biosystems from 1997 until 2005.

Bob currently serves on the Board of Directors for Twist Biosciences. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Connecticut as well as a Master of Science in Biomedical and Electrical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University.

“We are working to change the trajectory of cancer mortality and bring stakeholders together to adopt innovative, safe, and effective technologies that can transform cancer care.”