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Google Hires Prominent Neurologist to Work At Life Sciences Division

( [email protected] ) Sep 19, 2015 01:13 AM EDT
Google recently hired the director of National Institute of Mental Health the company's life-sciences division understand the process of treating mental illness.

Google recently hired the director of National Institute of Mental Health the company's life-sciences division understand the process of treating mental illness.

On Tuesday, Google announced that it had hired Dr. Thomas Insel, who recently toured California's Silicon Valley. Since 2002, the top neurologist and psychologist had been the head of the National Institute of Mental Health.

"Tom is coming on board to explore how the life-sciences team at Google could have an impact on the huge challenges related to understanding, diagnosing, and treating mental illness," the company said in an official statement.

Insel will be stepping down this November from his position at the Maryland-based organization, which gained prominence under U.S. President Obama's brain initiative. The researcher said in a statement that he plans to combat mental illness through his recent collaboration with Google.

Upon starting work, Insel will be working within Google's life-sciences subsidiary Alphabet. His last visit to Silicon Valley involved visiting tech giants that included Google, Apple and IBM. On the same day as Google's announcement, he expressed optimism regarding his new role

"That the life sciences team at Google would establish a major exploration into mental health is by itself a significant statement - recognizing the burden of illness from psychosis, mood disorders, and autism as well as the opportunity for technology to make a major impact to change the world for the millions affected," he said, according to Forbes.

According to Seattle Times, the neurologist believes that "technology is not the answer to all problems, but it may help those with mental illness even more than those with other chronic, serious medical conditions."

However, Insel's impending departure was greeted with mixed reaction from peers within his field of research.

"Tom's leaving is a great loss for all of us," said Dr. E Fuller Torrey, director of Stanley Medical Research Institute, according to NY Times. "He refocused N.I.M.H. on its primary mission - research on the causes and better treatments for individuals with series mental illness."

Previously, Google has participated in a number of health-related ventures including glucose-monitoring contact lens for diabetics. The Mountain View-based tech giant also worked on anti-aging research in a collaborative effort with major pharmaceutical company AbbVie.