Google Life Sciences and the American Heart Association (AHA) announced that they’re joining together to fight heart disease. The organizations have committed to donating $25 million each over the next five years to the search for a cure.
“With its devastating human impact on countless generations of families, cardiovascular disease, and in particular coronary heart disease remains the greatest and deadliest global health challenge we face today,” said AHA chief executive Nancy Brown in a statement. “By working together, AHA and Google Life Sciences will be able to serve as the catalyst for change and transformation in reducing the impact of coronary heart disease on people’s lives and alleviating this global burden.”
The $50 million investment will fund one research team tasked with developing “a richer, deeper understanding of cardiovascular disease.” Backed by what has been called the largest single research investment in the AHA’s history, the team will design a program to discover causes and drivers of coronary heart disease. The AHA says this team will also have support from across clinical research, engineering, data analysis, strategic counsel, and more from within its Joint Leadership Group.
According to the AHA, cardiovascular diseases are the number one cause of death globally — 17 million people die annually due to heart ailments. Coronary heart disease, specifically, is responsible for 7 million deaths each year. What has continued to confound researchers and health professionals are the root causes.
This project targeting heart disease is Google Life Sciences’ latest foray into medicine, as it previously set its eye on developing new ways to treat and manage diabetes. Now it’s turning its attention toward a variety of other serious diseases, including cancer and neurodegenerative conditions.
Google Life Sciences is one of the companies that spun out from Google following its massive organizational changes earlier this year. It was formerly a division of Google X and works on moonshot projects around improving quality of life. Included in its portfolio are contact lenses to monitor people’s glucose levels, a spoon to monitor tremors, a disease-detecting nanoparticle platform, and a health-tracking wristband.
In 2013, the organization hired former Genentech CEO Art Levinson to lead Calico, a company to study aging and associated diseases. In September, Google Life Sciences brought on board the former director of the National Institute of Mental Health,Thomas Insel, to help the company focus on treatment of mental illness. Each of these efforts seems to have also drawn support of partners within the medical field, such as pharmaceutical company Novartis and drug company AbbVie.