ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) â€” A company whose name is synonymous with eyeballs on the Internet is turning its attention to hearts. Google Life Sciences, a research group recently spun off from its parent corporation, is teaming with the American Heart Association in a $50 million project to find new ways to fight heart disease.
The heart associationâ€™s half, $25 million over five years, is the largest single research investment in its history. For the Google group, its latest biomedical venture will join projects that include whiz-bang devices such as driverless cars, contact lenses that monitor blood-sugar for diabetics and health-tracking wristbands.
The project was announced Sunday at a heart association conference in Orlando.
Heart disease is the worldâ€™s top killer, a problem that â€œseems ripe for new innovationâ€ and disruptive, unconventional thinking, said Andy Conrad, Google Life Sciencesâ€™ chief executive. Progress has been slow and â€œwe should shake it up a little bit,â€ he said.
Besides cash, Google has tech tools to offer such as sensors to monitor the health of â€œpeople in the wildâ€ versus just when they go to doctors and huge capabilities for data analysis. The company is aiming for a cure, Conrad said. Thereâ€™s no guarantee of success, but â€œthe only thing we can promise is that weâ€™ll try harder.â€
By early next year â€” Valentineâ€™s Day, â€œa big heart day,â€ Conrad said â€” a team from Google and the heart association hope to pick a project leader, who might be a cardiologist, a nurse or â€œa teenager from Wisconsin,â€ depending on what skills and ideas that person can bring to the table. The team is looking for â€œa maverick,â€ he said.
The venture â€œreally allows us to think about â€¦ doing research in a different way,â€ said Dr. Robert Harrington, chairman of the Stanford University School of Medicine and a member of the heart associationâ€™s board.
Traditional research has brought only incremental improvements in heart disease treatment.
â€œWe are trying to do something disruptive here,â€ Harrington said.
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