Grail’s Cook Steps Down, Former Juno Executive Bishop Named CEO

Xconomy San Francisco — 

Grail CEO Jennifer Cook has stepped down from the cancer diagnostics developer and its board of directors.

Menlo Park, CA-based Grail said Thursday that Cook left due to “family health reasons.” Hans Bishop, a Grail director since last August, was appointed Cook’s successor in the chief executive role. He will also remain on Grail’s board. Bishop is the founder and former president and CEO of Juno Therapeutics, which was acquired by Celgene (NASDAQ: CELG) last year.

Grail, an Illumina (NASDAQ: ILMN) spinout, is developing a cancer test that detects fragments of cancer DNA that are shed by tumors and circulate in the blood. By testing a small sample of a patient’s blood, it’s hoped that so-called liquid biopsies can help diagnose cancer at its earliest stages when it’s more treatable. Grail has raised more than $1.5 billion to support its research.

At the American Society of Clinical Oncology conference that wrapped up this week, Grail announced data demonstrating the accuracy of its liquid biopsy in diagnosing cancer. The company also reported data showing how well its test could identify the type of cancer. Grail still needs to duplicate those results in larger studies.

Cook came to Grail last year from Roche, where she was head of clinical operations in product development for its pharmaceuticals division. In other moves announced Thursday, Grail said that Renée Galá has decided to step down as chief financial officer and Josha Ofman was appointed chief of corporate strategy and external affairs.