By: Pooja Jaeel
Google is venturing into health and aging with a new start-up named Calico that will be focused on solving age related illnesses and issues.
In their press release, Google CEO Larry Page said, “Illness and aging affect all our families. With some longer term, moonshot thinking around healthcare and biotechnology, I believe we can improve millions of lives.”
To head this ambitious, yet vague project, Calico boasts of having Arthur Levinson as their CEO and Chairman. Levinson is currently the chairman of Genentech and Apple, therefore giving him a solid background in biotechnology as well as the tech space.
Although aging illnesses are somewhat off the beaten path for Google, the company aims to tackle those issues in a familiar way — using data analytics. ZK Research analyst Zues Kerravala explains, “Google is great at analyzing large amounts of data and so much of medical research, in many ways, is data analytics. They have the resources and they have the analytical capabilities. One of the things that always holds back medical research is resources and funding, of which, Google has plenty.”
Shifts in the medical world, such as the move to electronic medical records and the use of health metric tracking apps by doctors and patients, are adding to this enormous database. Even though the initial press release warned that it was too early to reveal too many details about Calico’s projects, in the month since the news there have been clues as to what the company will focus on.
Inspired by the success of the Human Genome Project, Calico might begin by comparing the genome of healthy older people to those that succumb to common illnesses like cancer. In a sense, they will take advantage of the data that has already been gathered by genetic counseling websites like 23andme.com. While details are still unclear, it is known that Calico will invest in similar, long-term research based projects rather than jumping into clinical trials right away.
Regardless of the specific projects, Page assured investors that Calico’s work will be carried out in the same innovative and methodical way that characterizes Google. “While this is clearly a longer-term bet,” says Page, “We believe we can make good progress within reasonable timescales with the right goals and the right people.
Sources: Google Press Release