Ex-Obama health official becomes Google's first chief health officer

Google sign
Karen DeSalvo served as an assistant health secretary and the national coordinator of health IT in the U.S. Department for Health and Human Services. (Google)

Google snagged Dr. Karen DeSalvo, a former health official in the Obama administration, to become its first chief health officer, according to CNBC, which first reported the news Thursday. 

DeSalvo served as an assistant health secretary and the national coordinator of health IT in the U.S. Department for Health and Human Services. After leaving her government post in January 2017, she landed at the University of Texas at Austin’s Dell Medical School, with professorships in the departments of internal medicine and population health, HealthcareIT News reported

At Google, she will provide advice on “providers, doctors and nurses across the company’s cloud unit and Alphabet’s life sciences arm Verily,” CNBC reported. 

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RELATED: Ex-FDA chief Robert Califf to help lead health policy at Google, Verily full-time 

DeSalvo’s appointment is just the latest in a string of hires that deepen the tech giant’s investment in and focus on healthcare. These include those of former FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf, who also served under the Obama administration, and Dr. David Feinberg, the former CEO of Geisinger. 

RELATED: Google teams up with GN, Cochlear to bring direct phone streaming to hearing aids 

DeSalvo and Califf—now leading health policy at Google Health and Verily—will get to work later this year. Both will report to Feinberg, the head of Google Health hired last December and tasked with developing a cohesive strategy for Google’s various health and health-adjacent enterprises, including through home automation and wearables. 

The news comes amid a busy fall season. Just last month, Google joined forces with hearing aid makers GN Hearing and Cochlear to allow users to stream music and calls directly from Android smartphones to their hearing devices, inked a decadelong partnership with the Mayo Clinic and folded in personnel from DeepMind, the artificial intelligence firm that already operated underneath the umbrella of Alphabet.

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