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Steve Rusckowski ’79: At the forefront of the coronavirus (COVID-19) testing

DEPARTMENT(S): 
April 7, 2020

As the pandemic continues to significantly change life and work around the world, Steve Rusckowski is at the forefront of helping to solve this global crisis. 

Rusckowski, who serves on the WPI Board of Trustees, is chairman, president, and CEO of Quest Diagnostics, the world’s largest provider of diagnostic information services. The company touches the lives of approximately one third of the adult U.S. population each year—and is about to impact even more lives as it ramps up its COVID-19 testing efforts. At a recent press conference and tour with Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker at Quest’s Marlboro headquarters, Rusckowski anticipated processing 2,000 to 3,000 tests at the company’s Marlboro location and expected an estimated 30,000 tests per day to be processed at Quest facilities nationwide.

“What we do at Quest Diagnostics represents a very small portion of healthcare costs, but a very large portion of the information that doctors or clinicians need to determine the next steps in people’s care,” Rusckowski said in a recent interview with WPI.

In the evolving COVID-19 situation, he added, testing is more important than ever to identify those who have been affected and to isolate those who already have antibodies; assess risk; determine treatment options; and determine when communities can return to everyday life.

“What we have said at Quest for years is that we’re in the business of empowering better health with diagnostic insights," he says. "This is just a glaring example of the importance of what we do.”

Since joining Quest Diagnostics as president and CEO in May 2012, Rusckowski has focused on transforming the company, based on that compelling vision of “empowering better health with diagnostic insights.” Under his leadership, the company has enhanced the customer experience through collaboration with leading retailers and expanded its access to cover 90 percent of commercially insured lives. He was elected Quest’s chairman in December 2016.

Rusckowski, who has also been present at White House press briefings about the coronavirus, comes to this moment with decades of experience in the medical and healthcare industries and a commitment to increasing access to healthcare and advancing healthcare through technology as well as to global healthcare education.

“I have always thought that combining my business expertise with the technology education I received at WPI," he says, "and applying it to healthcare is a great opportunity to contribute to making the world a better place.”

He began his career at Procter & Gamble in the company’s management development program. He later joined the Hewlett Packard (HP) Medical Division, where he held several senior positions with profit and loss responsibility, and at Agilent Technologies when HP spun off its test and measurement–related divisions.  

Prior to joining Quest Diagnostics, he was CEO of Philips Healthcare, an $11 billion medical technology business that became the largest unit of Royal Philips Electronics under his leadership. At Philips, where he worked across 128 countries, he also saw firsthand the global impact of healthcare and healthcare technology.

Rusckowski credits his WPI education with preparing him to meet the challenges of complex global problems, such as those posed by the COVID-19.

“I do believe WPI is a unique institution,” he says. “When I look at graduates and my own experience, it’s definitely more of a team approach, a problem-solving approach that prepared me well for my career.”

At WPI during the early years of the WPI Plan, Rusckowski experienced all aspects of this groundbreaking approach to STEM higher education, including the Competency Exam.

“I learned how to learn, and that was one of the big principles of the WPI Plan then and now,” he says. “To this day, I have not stopped learning.”

Rusckowski is a member of the Board of Directors of Project Hope, a global health education and humanitarian assistance organization. He is also on the Board of Directors of the American Clinical Laboratory Association and served as its chairman from 2014 to 2017. In addition to his WPI degree, Rusckowski holds an MS in management from the MIT’s Sloan School of Management.