US mental health agency director hired by Google / Alphabet - Thomas Insel will be working on mental health there, too

Good news - Tom Insel is going to Google to keep his work going…

The director of the US National Institute of Mental Health, Thomas Insel, is joining Alphabet’s Life Sciences, which was spun out from Google X. Starting November 1st, Insel will lead a mental health effort at the company, according to a letter from the NIH.

Insel served as director of the National Institute of Mental Health for 13 years. Under his guidance, the NIMH launched initiatives like the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium — a project that looks for links between genetic data and psychiatric illnesses — and the Army STARRS project, which was designed to identify factors that can protect service members’ mental health. Now, he’s headed for Life Sciences, a Google-founded company that works on genetics, cancer, and diabetes (and mental health).

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"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 a statement. “We’re thrilled that he’s joining the team and look forward to sharing more once he has a chance to get up and running.”

Insel wrote a blog post in late August describing his visits to Silicon Valley tech giants and startups that are working on health ventures, noting 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.” His post gave no hint that he planned on leaving to work for one of the companies he visited.