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American Heart Association Teams Up With Google

Their new $50 million partnership aims to prevent and reverse heart disease.

Google and the American Heart Association (AHA) announced last month that they're teaming up to help end heart disease. Through this research collaboration, the behemoth web company and nonprofit organization hope to challenge both the causes and treatments for the condition in order to prevent and even reverse it.

To do this, each organization is investing $25 million over 5 years, for a total investment of $50 million. Funding aside, their biggest mission is to find a leader who can turn their healthcare goal into a reality. According to a press release, a Joint Leadership Group made up of people from AHA and Google Life Sciences (GLS) will select a leader in early 2016. In true Google form, they're shaking things up by not requiring the leader to be a cardiologist; this person can be from any background.

"It could be a teenager in Wisconsin who has a brilliant idea," said Andy Conrad, chief executive of GLS, in an AHA blog post. "The best idea should triumph."

Health Focus
Google is all about innovation, and this partnership is not the first medical initiative it has undertaken. Using Google's miniaturized electronics platform, GLS and DexCom Inc. are working together to develop a series of continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) products designed to be smaller and less expensive than existing technologies. The goal is to help people better monitor their diabetes using real-time information connected to Google Cloud.

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Robert Harrington, AHA board member and chair of the department of medicine at the Stanford University School of Medicine, said he's excited to work with Google and believes the partnership will enable "access to other GLS assets and resources, including their computational and analytic expertise."

Before AHA and DexCom, GLS had partnered with Lift Labs, a company that created an eating utensil that can counteract tremors that are a symptom of Parkinson's disease. Since Google acquired Lift Labs, the Liftware spoon or fork is now significantly cheaper so that more people have access to the device.

Calico is another Google health company focused on longevity. It has a team of scientists from the fields of medicine, drug development, molecular biology and genetics that are aiming to devise interventions that slow aging and counteract age-related diseases through research.

P style="BACKGROUND: white">Calico is currently working with AncestryDNA to help investigate why certain families live longer. Using Ancestry's database, the company will look for underlying hereditary factors with the goal of using the findings to formulate future therapeutics.

A Proactive Approach
GLS is focused on shifting healthcare from a reactive, undifferentiated approach to a proactive, targeted approach by transforming the detection, prevention, management and even basic understanding of a disease.

Heart disease is a priority, since it is the leading cause of death among men and women. An estimated 47% of Americans have high blood pressure or high cholesterol or are smokers. These are the key risk factors for developing heart disease, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

To find a research leader, Harrington says a request for applicants will be available in January 2016 and submissions will be accepted through Feb. 14. A team from GLS and AHA will then review and ultimately select the team leader who will be responsible for assembling an investigative team to attack the problem of heart disease.

Chelsea Lacey-Mabe is a staff writer. Contact:

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