Can Google “Solve” Mental Illness? Maybe…

Dr. Thomas Insel, who will be joining Google.

I stumbled across this post tonight on Buzzfeed about Google hiring Dr. Thomas Insel, lately of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), to work in their life sciences division. I encourage you to read the whole post, but here’s the key takeaway:

Google’s life sciences projects have so far tackled diabetes, genomics, and anti-aging (in the form of its subsidiary, Calico) — but not mental health. In his statement, Insel said that he would help pioneer efforts in that area. He wrote, “That the life sciences team at Google would establish a major exploration into mental health is by itself a significant statement — recognizing the burden of illness from psychosis, mood disorders, and autism as well as the opportunity for technology to make a major impact to change the world for the millions affected.”

It’s an exciting prospect. Insel gave this TEDx talk on the possibilities of early detection of mental health issues and it left me both hopeful and a little worried: Who’s going to fund that kind of research?

Maybe the search is over…

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