Google's Verily, AHA, AstraZeneca team up for heart disease R&D with $75M

The American Heart Association (AHA), Verily (formerly Google Life Sciences) and AstraZeneca ($AZN) have chipped in a total of $75 million over 5 years to support "one brave idea from a visionary leader" to cure coronary heart disease.

The application can be submitted here through Feb. 14, and the winner is slated to be revealed this summer. The stated goal of the effort is not modest: to end coronary heart disease. It's tough to imagine a solution overarching enough to engage both the emerging, med tech-oriented Verily as well as the major biopharma AstraZeneca.

This is the first major effort disclosed by Verily since it assumed that name in early December. Prior to that in August, Google Life Sciences was the first company disclosed, in addition to Google itself, which fell under the new parent company Alphabet.

Some of Verily's other med tech efforts include a partnership with Dexcom ($DXCM) to develop a miniature, disposable continuous blood glucose monitor, a joint venture with Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) in robotic surgery that's dubbed Verb Surgical, and a contact lens deal with Novartis ($NVS) that includes glucose-sensing lenses.

This $75 million research effort adds AstraZeneca to a previously announced challenge backed by AHA and Google Life Sciences.

Verily's Andrew Conrad

"We want to create a model for experts from different disciplines to come together and focus on a problem," said Verily CEO Andrew Conrad in a statement. "Our aim is to provide the resources and support necessary to study coronary heart disease over a number of years with the most advanced tools available. We're looking for a team that can gain new understanding, prove new treatments, and--ultimately--prevent or reverse this challenging disease."

Cardiovascular disease is the top global cause of death, resulting in one out of three deaths. That's 17 million deaths annually with coronary heart disease accounting for 7 million.

The team selected will not only have the financial backing of the trio, but it will also have access to the medical and scientific expertise at AHA and Verily's technology capabilities as well as scientific insights and mentoring from AstraZeneca. A joint leadership of two or three leaders from each funding organization will guide the selected team and the research project.

"We are trying to do something disruptive here," said AHA CEO Nancy Brown in the statement. "This is our moonshot--it's an unprecedented opportunity for the world's best and brightest to address a leading health threat."

- here is the announcement