Google gets into biotech with Calico, will aim to solve death

Google today announced Calico, a new company headed up by Arthur (Art) D. Levinson, the Chairman and former CEO of Genentech and Chairman of Apple, that will attempt to solve some of health care’s biggest problems. Yes, one of those “problems” is death — Calico will research human life extension.

Time magazine figures Google will employ data-processing to shed new light on the challenge of ageing and age-related ailments.

Unlike Glass and Google’s self-driving cars that form part of Google’s big-idea think tank, Google X, Calico will be a separate company.

Announcing Calico, Google CEO Larry Page, said: “Illness and ageing affect all our families. With some longer term, moonshot thinking around healthcare and biotechnology, I believe we can improve millions of lives. It’s impossible to imagine anyone better than Art — one of the leading scientists, entrepreneurs and CEOs of our generation — to take this new venture forward.”

Levinson added that he has devoted much of his life to science and technology, with the goal of improving human health and that Page’s focus on “outsized improvements” has inspired him, and made him “tremendously excited about what’s next.”

Levinson will remain Chairman of Genentech and a director of Hoffmann-La Roche, as well as Chairman of Apple. Genentech’s more than 1 100 researchers, scientists and postdocs research things like molecular biology, protein chemistry, bioinformatics and physiology with a focus on oncology, immunology, tissue growth and repair, neuroscience and infectious disease.

Apple’s CEO Tim Cook commented on Google’s new investment saying, “for too many of our friends and family, life has been cut short or the quality of their life is too often lacking. Art is one of the crazy ones who thinks it doesn’t have to be this way. There is no one better suited to lead this mission and I am excited to see the results.”

If it were any other company, the idea might sound a little kooky, but it’s Google, so we’re letting our imaginations run free.

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