Grail names former Google X Senior Vice President Jeff Huber as its CEO

On Wednesday, Grail, a healthcare firm that is developing a blood test for early detection of cancer, has named ex Google X Senior Vice President Jeff Huber as its CEO.

Huber said he is willing to apply his experience building large-scale data systems in improving the gene sequencing technology that Grail uses in the detection of cancerous material in patients, showing no symptoms of the disease.

Gene sequencing company Illumina Inc formed the San Francisco-based Grail and it received over $100 million in Series A financing. The majority owner of the firm is Illumina.

The main investors are some technology giants, including the founder of Microsoft Bill Gates, and Jeff Bezos, founder of, and ARCH Venture Partners and Sutter Hill Ventures.

Grail board chair and Illumina CEO Jay Flatley said that Jeff assisted Google in mapping the world, and would help them map the molecular biology of the microscopic cancer DNA that could be circulating within blood.

Before joining Google X in 2013, Huber had over 10 years of experience in building the systems that handle and analyze the data used for AdWords, Google Maps and the Google Apps suite. At the research facility, known for the development of self-driving cars and delivery drones, Huber started his next professional adventure of combining data and life sciences.

Some months after the change at Google, the work took a quite personal turn for Huber, when his wife, Laura got diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer. In November, she died of the disease after what he described as an ‘incredibly brave 18-month battle’.

Huber added, “I had already been ramping up on the biology and science behind this and then there was this very poignant reminder of the implications that there has to be a better way to do this”.

He said that for the coming three years, the goal of Grail will be to see improvement in the technology behind cancer detection and location and to start its cancer-detection system’s large-scale clinical trials.