Google Search Page with the word “Aspirin” in its search field
Google Search Page with the word “Aspirin” in its search field
… Alphabet Hires Duke University Medical Professor and Former FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert F. Califf …

ALPHABET HIRES DUKE UNIVERSITY MEDICAL PROFESSOR AND FORMER FDA COMMISSIONER FOR HEALTHCARE LEADERSHIP ROLE

Google ( NASDAQ: GOOGL ) parent Alphabet is hiring former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner and active Duke University medical professor Dr. Robert M. Califf

John G. Baresky

Alphabet is fortifying its healthcare and technology ranks with an experienced medical, academic and regulatory leader to oversee strategy for two of the company’s health divisions:

  • Google Health
  • Verily Life Sciences

The Forge health data science center at Duke University communicated the news about Dr. Califf via its blog. Dr. Califf had a 2-year tenure with the FDA during the Obama administration as commissioner and deputy commissioner of the agency’s Office of Medical Products and Tobacco. At Duke University, Dr. Califf over 35 years in leadership positions — plus more in training and fellowship programs. His career at Duke, in addition to being the Donald F. Fortin, M.D. Professor of Cardiology in the School of Medicine and a member of the Duke Clinical Research Institute, has been closely aligned with data science and health outcomes research / HEOR. Califf is no stranger to Alphabet and the technology industry. He was an advisor for Verily during 2017 and split responsibilities between Verily and Duke University. Dr. Califf is a practicing cardiologist and will remain on faculty at Duke as an adjunct professor.

Dr. Califf joins former Geisinger Health CEO David Feinberg who leads Google Health. Feinberg has been reformulating parts of the Google Health organization. Google Health spans an array of Alphabet’s health efforts, including research on using DeepMind’s AI ( artificial intelligence ) to diagnose diseases, including cancer, and to predict patient outcomes. DeepMind is an Alphabet company exclusively dedicated to artificial intelligence which it acquired for over $500 million in 2014. Verily Life Sciences, the research business unit of Alphabet, is also exploring the potential for technologies like AI, precision medicine and wearables to improve healthcare.

Alphabet’s keen interest in the healthcare industry is well established. They have collaborated with academic, clinical research and commercial healthcare organizations for years as well as invested in their medical research and development programs.

The scale and scope of their data expertise have wide utility across the healthcare industry. There are ample opportunities to deploy it as a clinical and commercial resource but choosing, managing and prioritizing them in a combined healthcare and technology environment which is always changing is a sizable task. CPOE, diabetes, genomics, HEOR, imaging, oncology, wearables are just a few elements spanning Alphabet’s swath of healthcare involvement. Alphabet’s Google Health and Verily medical data enterprises are experiencing growing pains and harsh competition from Amazon Web Services and other cloud computing / artificial intelligence heavy hitters in the healthcare industry. Dr. Califf’s leadership, healthcare and technical attributes are well suited to these challenges.

Like Alphabet, Amazon is another “non-traditional” technology company embracing opportunities in healthcare. Recently, Amazon ( NASDAQ: AMZN ) Web Services partnered with the Pittsburgh Health Data Alliance ( PHDA ) in a series of advanced healthcare data initiatives. PHDA is made up of:

The clinical and digital intellect of PHDA combined with AWS computing power is a formidable tandem. The partnership will be orchestrating vast EHR, genomics, imaging, oncology, payer, pharmaceutical and other complex data within the cloud computing environment.

Learn more about Amazon Web Services and the Pittsburgh Health Data Alliance:

Amazon’s Web Services Teams Up With Pittsburgh Health Data Alliance

Given the investment and competitive vision Google, Amazon, Microsoft, IBM and others have in healthcare, Dr. Califf is a valuable addition to Alphabet and its medical computing endeavors. Google’s quest for innovation and advancement, especially in healthcare, have great promise for near-term and future medical breakthroughs.

There has been a great deal of discussion surrounding a research effort from Google’s artificial intelligence unit that seeks to build quantum processors and develop novel, complex quantum algorithms to accelerate computing tasks for machine learning. Given such healthcare leaders as Dr. Califf and upcoming advancements in technology, it is exciting to think about how their work will benefit patients, doctors, nurses and other clinicians.

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