Google Life Sciences opts for a name change with 'Verily'

Verily's Andrew Conrad

Alphabet's ($GOOG) Google Life Sciences has been shaking things up this year, forging ahead with a series of med-tech related projects with new leadership in tow. In the spinoff's latest move, it's unveiling a name change.

Google Life Sciences will now be known as "Verily," a word with 13th century Middle English origins that means "truly" or "certainly." The company is shooting for an aspirational message with its new name, CEO Andy Conrad told STAT. Verily wants to take conventional medical technologies "from reactive to proactive, from intervention to prevention," Conrad said. "Only through the truth are we going to defeat Mother Nature."

The name evokes biblical connotations, but this could work in Verily's favor if the company delivers on its promise of rolling out new technologies, Greg Balla, creative director of San Francisco-based branding firm Zenmark, told STAT. "The challenge for them is to try to move away from the heavy-handed quality attached to Verily from association with the scripture--due to everything that's happening in our world right now."

Meanwhile, Verily is dialing up its med-tech cachet with big plans for innovation. The Mountain View, CA-based company is developing "smart" contact lenses with Swiss drugmaker Novartis ($NVS), and the pair plan to test a first prototype of the product on humans in 2016. Verily recently secured two patents for new technology, one for a laser ablation system and another for a needle-free blood draw device.

Jessica Mega

The company is also recruiting top talent to steer its initiatives, bringing on Jessica Mega as CMO in May to lead its Baseline study of human health and tapping Dr. Thomas Insel, former head of the National Institute of Mental Health, to develop new tools for mental health.

Conrad and Mega said that other collaborations could be on the horizon as Verily charges ahead with growth. And information uncovered through the company's research efforts could have positive implications for human health, transforming the way patients are diagnosed and treated, Mega recently told STAT.

"We're working to come up with things that provide actionable information," Mega said. "People ask if this will be something that only a handful of people can use. The hope is that they will be scalable. We're a bit early in that mission but it's something we take seriously."

- read the STAT story

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