Calico loses its second executive in 4 months as Daphne Koller quits

Calico
Koller joined Calico in 2016 to build a team that can analyze large volumes of health data and change the way we think about aging and disease. (Calico)

Alphabet's supersecretive Calico Labs is losing its top artificial intelligence researcher as Chief Computing Officer Daphne Koller moves on to greener pastures.

“I have decided to leave Calico to pursue other professional opportunities,” Koller said in an emailed statement to Bloomberg. “I very much enjoyed my time at Calico, and have the greatest respect for the Calico team and their important and aspirational mission.”

Koller signed on with Calico in August 2016 to lead its machine learning and computational biology team. Her job? To build a team that can analyze large volumes of health data and change the way we think about aging and disease.

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She joined the company from Coursera, the education tech outfit she founded in 2012.

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In addition to applying existing machine learning techniques to biological data, she also intended to develop new kinds of machine learning that can change human health, she told FierceBiotech in September that year.

And her path at Calico was uncharted—because her approach was data-driven, the specific indications Calico would tackle hinged on which data are produced and what her team learned from analyzing it.

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"Daphne has been instrumental in helping to build our machine learning and computing infrastructure and has made many important contributions as we aim to bring the vast capabilities of machine learning to bear on advancing our understanding of the biological mechanisms by which we age," Calico spokesman Neil Cohen said, according to Bloomberg.

Koller’s departure is Calico’s second high-profile exit in recent months. In November, its R&D chief, Hal Barron, jumped ship to take the chief scientific officer position at GlaxoSmithKline.

The Big Pharma hired Barron, who now heads a new GSK office in San Francisco, to shake up R&D as it has seen few approvals or exciting research updates in the last few years.