Google Life Sciences now called Verily

8 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Alphabet renames Google Life Sciences branch to ‘Verily’.

Google’s Life Sciences team, the arm of the company working on biology projects like a “smart” contact lens for diabetics, has a new name as of Monday: Verily. The branch was originally named Google Life Sciences, but from here on out will be known as “Verily.” The goals of Verily are identical to Life Sciences and the only thing that’s really changing is the name. The Shakespearean-sounding moniker is part of to a wave of rebranding that began this summer when Google restructured and placed its smaller, non-core internet businesses under a new parent holding company, Alphabet. The division’s goal is to utilize technological breakthroughs to “create a true picture of human health.” In a video attached to the announcement, Verily describes how automakers include sensors with cars to easily diagnose problems.

Verily is a Middle English word that means “truly” or “certainly,” which CEO Andy Conrad says is the main motto of Alphabet’s health unit. “Only through the truth are we going to defeat Mother Nature,” Conrad said in a statement to health website STAT. The company wants to use that same approach to “uncover new truths about health and disease,” gain a better understanding about these ailments, and intervene more precisely. “Our multidisciplinary teams have access to advanced research tools, large scale computing power, and unique technical expertise,” copy on Verily’s website reads. Verily’s focus, Conrad explained, is a shift from traditional medicinal technologies. “From reactive to proactive, from intervention to prevention,” he explained. This is the group of biologists, immunologists, oncologists, and nanoparticle engineers chugging away on such headline-grabbing efforts as a wristband that monitors health signs in real time, a study that sequences people’s genomes to build a complete picture of what human health should look like, a contact lens with an embedded glucose sensor for diabetics, and tiny magnetic particles that would patrol the body for diseases. (Note that it will probably be a long time before any of these make it into your doctor’s office.) So why the name Verily? Verily says it will use advanced hardware to build revolutionary devices, and utilize software to better understand and analyze what’s occurring in our bodies.

With the name change, the team has also organized itself into four groups (hardware, software, clinical, and research) and begun to focus in particular on heart disease and diabetes. Last month, for example, it partnered with the American Heart Association in a $50 million effort to research the causes and drivers of cardiovascular disease. It also made a key hiring move this past September, snapping up the National Institutes of Mental Health’s Tom Insel to spearhead its digital approach to mental health care. Imagine a chemist and an engineer and a doctor and a behavioral scientist, all working together to truly understand health and to better prevent, detect, and manage disease.

To that end, Verily spells out its approach to interfacing tech and health on its new website – outlining a multidisciplinary goal to bring together engineers, physicians, chemists, behavioral scientists and other such professionals to create a harmonized approach to health analytics and treatment. Other quirky names: Project Ara (modular smartphones), Project Tango (motion-tracking and depth perception on smartphones), and Project Soli (a tiny sensor that picks up subtle human motions). The idea is to shift away from “episodic, reactive healthcare” to a more preventative approach driven by advanced sensors, devices and data analytics, as it outlines in the video below: “There’s no user manual for a human being,” the video says. “A new car has up to 400 different sensors. In total, the arm in vested in 39 companies and has $2.4 billion under management. 31 percent of investments were in health and life science companies. But we don’t do that with people.” We’re bringing active investors and corporate development execs together with promising startups at MedCity News INVEST.

While this renaming has yet to be announced, it will certainly be interesting to see how Google is able to tie all of those companies together with one word.

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