A heavyweight in local biotech is taking over the reins at San Francisco startup Grail, assuming the role of chief executive officer from ex-Googler Jeffrey Huber.
The new recruit, William (Bill) Rastetter, is a well-known biotech veteran in San Diego, most recently co-founding Receptos Inc. (the biotech that sold to Celgene Corp. last year for $7.2 billion). Other than Receptos, Rastetter has served in several biotech leadership roles, including top positions at Biogen Idec (now just Biogen) and Genentech.
Although Grail, an early cancer-detection startup, is based up in the Bay Area, the company is a spinout from local genetic sequencing giant Illumina Inc., which still owns a 20 percent stake in the firm. Grail is a high-profile startup due to its huge fundraising round announced earlier this year — $900 million from several tech and life science investors.
The startup got a lot of credibility among the Silicon Valley crowd when Huber was appointed CEO in 2016. Huber is best known for the work he did at Google, leading the development of Google’s advertising products, Google Apps, Google Maps, and Google Earth. In more recent years, he applied his big data skills to life science projects, including a role at the semi-secret R&D facility Google X.
Huber had little experience in biotech, but he did have a board seat at Illumina. In a statement, Grail said the leadership change was designed to “support the company’s next phase of growth as it moves towards commercialization of early detection products.”
It is not clear if Rastetter will remain in San Diego, or move to San Francisco in his new role.