Google Life Sciences teams with AHA to target heart disease in $50M research initiative

Google's Andrew Conrad

Alphabet's ($GOOG) Google Life Sciences group is broadening its med tech cachet through a new research deal with the American Heart Association (AHA), teaming up with the organization to come up with new tools and resources to address heart disease.

Google Life Sciences (GLS) and the AHA will sink $25 million each into the initiative, funneling $50 million over the next 5 years into a research team that will explore the underpinnings of coronary heart disease and potentially lethal effects such as heart failure and sudden cardiac death. A joint leadership group comprised of people from GLS and the AHA will select a leader for the team in early 2016, tasking the person with gathering a group of investigators and spearheading efforts toward "finding new causes and drivers of coronary heart disease," GLS and the AHA said in a statement. The leader "may be a cardiologist but could come from any background or area of expertise," they added.

In return, GLS and the AHA will provide the team with support in areas including clinical research, engineering and data analysis and will offer ongoing counsel, oversight and resources through its joint leadership group, creating a "fundamentally different kind of model for funding innovation," GLS CEO Andy Conrad said in a statement.

"The team leader will be able to bring together clinicians, engineers, designers, basic researchers and other experts to think in new ways about the causes of coronary heart disease. We're already imaging the possibilities when a team like that has access to the full resources of both Google Life Sciences and the AHA, and we can't wait to see what they discover," Conrad said.

The partnership comes as GLS forges ahead as a standalone unit under Google's reconceptualized Alphabet company, deepening its med tech footprint through a series of new projects aimed at different diseases. GLS has struck a series of diabetes deals including one with French drugmaker Sanofi ($SNY) to come up with diabetes monitoring solutions, another with Novartis ($NVS) to develop a smart contact lens for diabetes and a partnership with DexCom ($DXCM) to create glucose monitoring tools.

Thomas Insel

The company is also planning to delve into mental health and recruited Dr. Thomas Insel, former head of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), to lead the charge. Insel will draw on Alphabet's analytics and data-mining tools to help spur research, with the end goal of improving outcomes for patients and uncovering better treatments for mental illness. If all goes to plan, new technology "could transform this area in the next 5 years," Insel said last month.

- read the statement

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