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Grail: Finding Meaning In The Darkest Hours


The technology of the 21st century has developed so much that it can inspect possible evidence of life on the closest planet to the Sun, defying the studies we learned at school. However, technology is yet to develop in the field of medicine. This results in diseases like cancer still being an inevitable threat to many people.

Jeff Hubert was a tech-enthusiast with a dream to operate in the IT sector, but life held something else for him. He lost his wife to cancer, and that marked the start of his war against cancer.

Grail is a company whose mission is to pre-notice the beginnings of cancer and prevent it from further spreading. The team in the company developed a liquid biopsy that can detect nano changes in your body and determine whether there is a predisposition for cancer.

Jeff Hubert's story is about nonnegotiable obstacles, turning hardships into fuel for strength, and winning a war against an invisible enemy attacking millions of people.

Wading Through The Mud

Jeff grew up in the small village of Menomonee, Illinois, on a dairy farm. As a child, his parents would often give him daily chores on the farm. One of the tasks was to wake up early and let the cows out for their grazing.

One day, as Jeff was walking from his house to the barn, he noticed that his feet were sinking into the soggy soil. After some effort, the young boy was completely stuck and unable to move! While stuck in the soil, he had time to think and self-reflect on his life and upbringing.

His helpless situation aside, Jeff realized that he had no interest in farming and that his passion was education. Luckily, his parents supported him in this idea, although they could only afford to pay for one year of studies. That did not stop young Jeff from pursuing his passion. So, what happened when he grew up?

Well, Jeff wanted to enroll at the University of Illinois and expressed interest in computer technology. He asked his parents for a computer, which during that time cost 3500 dollars - the annual earnings of a farm. However, his mother had some savings and managed to buy him the computer.

Jeff was not only using his computer, but he also began to study its hardware. That is how he realized that he could upgrade his computer. Thus, the process of upgrading it cost him his three months allowance.

When he was only 14, he found a job and taught himself to code. The young boy used to code day and night in his bedroom on the farm. With time, he earned enough money and experience to start his studies at Illinois University.

Follow Your Passion and You Will Find Your Way!

Jeff graduated in 1989 from Illinois University with a degree in computer engineering. Soon after, Jeff continued his studies at the prestigious Harvard University, diving into his material with eager zest.

After graduating from Harvard, his first job was at McKinsey and Company, but later on, he became the Vice President at eBay.

His time at eBay was cut short due to the creative differences between him and the company. Jeff put all his efforts to persuade the company towards his vision, he fell short and got fired. Although at first, he took this by the heart, it was not long until Jeff got back on his feet and searched for a new venture.

However, he still found a way to pursue his dream when he got a job at Google. He worked at Google for 10 years, starting from 2003. Jeff showed his craft in modern technology in this company by creating applications used by billions of people today. Google Apps, Google Maps, and Google Ads are all creations he developed with his team. In 2013, Jeff went on to become the Senior Vice President at Google X. What a ride!

The Idea Behind Grail

Jeff's wife, Laura, had always been a healthy and active woman. Unfortunately, personal health can be awfully unpredictable, and she was diagnosed with colon cancer, which soon enough, attacked her entire body. Doctors took various actions to prevent the spread, but the disease evolved, and it was too aggressive.

After a few months of brave fighting, she passed away. Laura was his inspiration, and the tech guru was left broken after her passing.

While he was working for Google X, Jeff started researching biotechnology. He began examining technology that can trace the complex nature of metastasized cancer and possible ways of preventing it from further spreading.

Along with his team, he founded the Grail Company, dedicating it to his wife. Jeff found the strength to turn his sorrow into one of his most ambitious ventures to date and dove right into it, researching and developing with all his might. But, building his own company was not always a walk in the park.

Dreaming Big

Jeff believed that there must be a way to fight cancer more effectively. He even dedicated his commencement speech to this matter.

Being aware that there were technological research labs, he was convinced that there was a way to detect the early stages of the lethal disease. Therefore, he collected dedicated research troops ready to start his humane mission.

In addition, he secured his team with the best biotechnology that could cover all their needs. Jeff was starting this new journey, completely ready to reach his goal. So, Grail was founded in San Francisco, California, in 2015.

The main goal of the scientists and the company is to detect the early stages of cancer by running a liquid biopsy. The company calls these biopsies Galleri tests. After one sample, the test should give any evidence of malignant occurrence and anamnesis of cancer in the family. The biopsies are meant for anyone who wants to check regularly and anyone who has suspected symptoms.

It took a lot of hard work and dedication to build the technology, and at times it seemed like an impossible mission. However, their will to rise above the odds was greater. Even from the start, it was evident that Grail was a game-changer.

Support From The World's Greatest

World giants such as Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Johnson and Johnson, Bristol Myers Squibb, Merck, and Varian Medical System are among the largest investors and backers of the company.

It is worth mentioning that Grail’s parent company Ilumina invested $8 billion and holds 20% of the stock. Currently, the company has around 494 employees, and its total worth is $2 billion dollars. The company’s main headquarters are located in Menlo Park, California. Additionally, Grail is established in various places around the USA, such as Washington DC, North Carolina, and the UK. Grail has continued to function as a healthcare company, striving to help people detect cancer in the early stages when it can be treated. The future goal of Grail is to put an end to cancer as a disease.

Finding Purpose and Meaning

Jeff might have had other dreams before his wife was diagnosed with cancer, but he found purpose in the darkest hours. He is one of the many examples that taking your pain and turning it into something meaningful is a great asset every entrepreneur should have.

His work is saving millions of lives daily and is an inspiration to many who strive to help others through their success.

From growing up on a farm to fighting for a seat at the table, Jeff's story proves that your background and upbringing don't matter. What pays off, in the long run, is the will to change the world through hard work and dedication.

What we can take from his story, is to dream in the darkest hours, fight our way out of them, and help others along the way. As Jeff said himself: “things don’t happen for a reason, but you can find purpose and meaning in the things that do happen!”