Google is continuing its strong effort to break into the healthcare market, as the company is on the verge of hiring the director of the United States National Institute of Mental Health, Tom Insel, to serve as a senior researcher for its Google Life Sciences unit.
The hire is the latest sign that Google continues to be focused far beyond its traditional advertising business. Earlier this week, the company announced that it has hired former Hyundai CEO John Krafcik to lead its self-driving car program.
Insel confirmed the news, saying, “I am currently working out the final details for a move to the life sciences team at Google.”
Insel said that he was becoming a part of Google Life Sciences (GLS) in order to help discover technology that can assist with earlier detection, stronger prevention, and better management of serious health conditions.
Particularly, Insel wants to focus upon psychosis, mood disorders, and autism.
GLS is currently working to develop a contact lens that is able to keep track of glucose levels in order to manage diabetes. The lens will utilize tears to measure glucose levels.
Last year, Google’s health division said that it was trying to create a pill that could detect cancer or heart disease in the early stages.
Another project of the life sciences team is the “Baseline Study”, which is used to collect genetic and molecular information in order to determine what a healthy human should look like.
GLS also acquired Lift Labs, the creators of the Liftware Spoon, which is used by patients with Parkinson’s disease in order to stop their tremors. The Liftware Spoon costs $295.
The team was formerly part of Google X, a semi-secretive facility run by Google that works toward achieving major technological innovations but is now one of many companies under Alphabet, Google’s new holding company. It is located about half a mile away from Google’s corporate headquarters, the Googleplex.