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KGI Alumna Alia Manetta Draws Upon Art and Science to Fuel Mission-Driven Projects

For Keck Graduate Institute (KGI) alumna Alia Manetta, MBS ’19, science and the arts have always gone hand-in-hand. She believes these combined forces are especially powerful when applied to philanthropic endeavors.

“I grew up in a family passionate about the arts, health, and philanthropy,” Manetta said. “When I was young, I spent many summers working on healthcare programs in Northeast India, in hospitals with limited technology and innovation. These experiences strengthened my mission and desire to make a difference in this world.”

This includes volunteering in the Sundari Mohan Seva Bhawan hospital (similar to a Doctors Without Borders Program), where she assisted with surgeries and brought medicines to indigenous tribes. Additionally, she volunteered at several other institutions, including the DISHA rural mentally disabled school, Lion’s Eye Cataract Eye Camps, the Academy for the Blind, and a local cancer hospital.

Over the years, she has contributed significantly to the oncology space.

“My passion for oncology has a personal component, as I have several family members who have faced battles with cancer,” Manetta said.

Manetta has served on the Los Angeles Area Board of Directors for the American Cancer Society (ACS) since 2019, helping to raise funds for cutting-edge research, engage millennials in the fight against cancer, and encourage legislation for the development of oncology-focused breakthrough therapies. She also serves as a stakeholder for the National Grant Review Peer Review Committee (Immunology and Blood Cell Development Grants) alongside some of the country’s leading cancer research scientists and health professionals.

Most recently, Manetta assisted with a charitable campaign sponsored by a large automotive and logistics corporation. The initiative, Truck Cancer (complete with trucker hats and T-shirts), brought in leaders across various industries who discussed different ways to fight cancer. Manetta, an accomplished artist, designed the T-shirts for the campaign.

“What makes oncology work with ACS unique is how they drive synergies between different industries, whether financial services, high-tech, retail, consumer goods, life sciences, or healthcare sectors,” Manetta said. “We tried to think out of the box and have fun while bringing people together and supporting survivors in diverse ways. Cancer isn’t one-size-fits-all, and thus doesn’t hit everyone the same way.”

For Manetta, innovation and creativity are vital in creating large-scale change.

“I encourage anyone reading this article to reach out if they have any innovative ideas for driving the oncology mission further,” Manetta said. “You don’t have to be in healthcare—anyone can contribute.”

Manetta has engaged in numerous mission-driven endeavors that utilize her creative and artistic skills. This includes spearheading the Academy Awards “Brain & Beauty” Art Initiative, creating large-scale commercial charity murals, and spearheading a National ACS ResearcHERS Art Campaign supporting women in STEM.

Though Manetta graduated from UCLA with a bachelor’s in Neuroscience and completed KGI’s Master of Business and Science (MBS) program, she has long been involved with the art world— creating everything from small paintings to custom band posters to large commissioned murals—and even has her own studio. She believes the convergence of art, science, and business can fuel important causes.

Since 2019, Manetta has started creating commemorative art pieces (commissioned art made in honor of an individual) where 100% of the proceeds are donated to funding cancer research grants.

“I get to tap into my creative side and meet some incredible people while fueling research in a space that needs it desperately,” Manetta said.

Another project includes a biotech art installation for OnSite Waste Technologies, which converts medical waste into sterilized, sustainably friendly medical bricks for disposal. As part of the scientific passion and creative spirit of KGI’s 2021 graduating class, she also painted a mural at the Oasis KGI Commons residence, which includes a range of vibrant colors, abstract scientific symbols, DNA helicases, blood platelets, and nature designs from the local surrounding area.

Manetta’s professional life within the healthcare and life sciences ecosystem is similarly diverse, spanning product launches, M&A, early-stage R&D, clinical trial strategy, and human-centered healthcare design. She worked for Accenture Strategy & Consulting for three years and now works for Verily (formerly Google Life Sciences) as Manager of Clinical Study Innovation & Operations.

“The clinical space has always been my North Star, specifically focusing on the patient experience—how the whole journey of the patient’s interactions look in healthcare and pharmaceutical settings,” Manetta said.

Verily’s mission is to improve patient care through precision medicine, focusing on Evidence Generation (determining ways to conduct research more efficiently) and Care Delivery and Management (helping patients with chronic conditions to better manage their health in more personalized ways).

Manetta feels that KGI’s Team Master’s Project (TMP) played a critical role in her career trajectory. As Project Lead, she helped craft tailored business and economic models for monetization of real-world data and commercialization of fracture risk tools for Amgen’s Digital Health & Innovation Group (DH&I).

“It actually parallels some of the work I’m doing now with Verily in that we’re looking at different areas of high unmet need and developing innovative digital offerings from evidence generation through clinical trials and care management,” Manetta said.

“Throughout my career, I’ve had to think through questions like, ‘How can we detect disease earlier and intervene faster? How do we understand disease at the individual level?'”

She feels the hands-on industry experience gained during her KGI journey helped facilitate this critical inquiry. Henry E. Riggs Professor of Management Dr. Steven Casper influenced her perspective on how business principles can be applied to the biotech space.

“He taught me how to put myself in others’ shoes by looking at real-world evidence and product market fit from both an early-stage entrepreneur and large corporation’s lens,” Manetta said.

Of all her endeavors, Manetta finds mission-driven projects to be the most fulfilling, and she encourages KGI students to become involved in philanthropic work.

“Personally, cancer has been something I’ve dedicated a lot of time to, and I’m happy to connect students with the American Cancer Society,” Manetta said. “But if you have another passion—for instance, sustainability—I encourage you to get involved. It’s important to apply your energy and passions to things bigger than yourself.”

To get involved with the ACS and explore your ideas, please reach out to ACS Senior Executive Director Dan Witzling at

“We are grateful to Alia as an artist and a thought leader involved with charitable and oncology endeavors advancing our mission,” Witzling said. “Creative approaches ensure that we engage a broader and more diverse audience in our critical mission to save more lives faster.”