Jessica Mega, Google Life Sciences

Jessica Mega
The cardiologist is overseeing projects ranging from smart contact lenses to wearable devices

Company: Alphabet (formerly Google)
Title: Chief Medical Officer, Google Life Sciences

Dr. Jessica Mega is the lead woman at Google Life Sciences, which is involved in some of the most ambitious med tech projects, including a smart contact lens, magnetic wearable diagnostics and the so-called Baseline study.

"What I find compelling is the immersion of people with strong technology backgrounds--hardware and software engineers--sitting next to people like myself," Mega once told Nature. "The impact feels very, very large."

Her cardiology background points to another area of interest for the unit of Alphabet ($GOOG), formerly known as Google. She previously served on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and at Brigham and Women's Hospital.

Mega is the only female senior investigator on the Thrombolysis in Myocardial Infarction (TIMI) Study, where she specialized in the use of biomarkers and genetics to stratify risk and evaluate therapies in cardiovascular patients, or in a nutshell, personalized medicine (also known as "precision medicine"). Her research has been published in top journals, including the Lancet and the Journal of the American Medical Association.  

In an email to FierceMedicalDevices, Mega said she was the principal investigator of the ELEVATE-TIMI 56 trial, which evaluated the impact of escalating the blood thinner clopidogrel (marketed as Plavix) on heart failure based on the CYP2C19 genotype.

And Google just announced that it is deepening its research collaboration with the American Heart Association, adding to a plethora of partnerships under way at the unit, including several announced since Mega joined the team in May. 

"Partnerships are at the heart of our approach. Our model is to work on new, early-stage technologies and then partner with companies with deep expertise in medicine and life sciences," she said in an email.

Google Life Sciences is interested in treating a range of chronic conditions including heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and neurological disorders, she said. Its financials and inner workings will be revealed for the first time during January's earnings release, when each Alphabet business segment will report results for the time.

Top medical minds were thrilled when Mega joined Google Life Sciences back when Alphabet was called Google. "Dr. Mega has all the skills and temperament to lead this effort for Google, which will break new ground for precision medicine and complement the Precision Medicine Initiative," FDA Deputy Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf said, according to Forbes. "Her scientific knowledge, experience in clinical trials and positive personality are a great fit."

Califf is not a bad friend to have, as he's likely to be the next FDA commissioner.

She advises working women "to address issues that matter most to you," saying in an email, "Like every career path, there are stereotypes to combat. Women in science have made great strides."

-- Varun Saxena (email | Twitter)

For more:
Google Life Sciences teams with AHA to target heart disease in $50M research initiative
Novartis, Google shoot to have smart contact lenses in clinic in 2016
Google signs on Harvard doc to lead bioinformatics study
Google's head of life sciences touts its upcoming wearable, nanoparticle-enabled diagnostic

Jessica Mega, Google Life Sciences
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