This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Empathy---Critical
in Normal 2.0

 

  The Herman Trend Alert

December 9, 2015

Google invests $50 million to Cure Heart Disease

Worldwide, over 17 million people a year lose their lives to cardiovascular disease---diseases of the heart and circulatory system. In fact, it is the most prevalent killer of all the diseases on earth----and the number continues to rise. Moreover, greater than 40 percent of those deaths are due to coronary heart disease---diseases of the heart and the blood vessels that feed it.

Heart disease---a medical mystery
Though the medical establishment has pharmaceuticals to treat it and practices that help to prevent it, nobody really knows what causes it or how to truly cure it. Working with the American Heart Association, Google Life Sciences intends to find a cure. It is investing a $50 million funding package to address the problem. Not surprisingly, the behemoth company wants to get the project done as quickly as possible, so they are planning to give the entire amount to one team over five years.

Bold new approach
Google calls this kind of funding: a moonshot. Typically, in the past, scientific research has not worked this way, but with USD$10 million a year over five years, we would not bet against it. Though in the US, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) gives out 1.2 billion in funding, no single team receives anywhere near this level.

The most heavily funded medical initiative in almost a century
Though the AHA is the largest funder of cardiovascular research in the United States besides the US government, the program will be its most heavily funded initiative in almost a century. Most federal grants in the US are in the $250,000-a-year range, plus they require time-consuming grant writing to maintain. Not Google's Moonshot. If you want their $50 million, you need to fit your idea onto a single page. And here is the amazing part: Google will not take a financial or intellectual property stake in the results.

A sign of things to come
From self-driving cars to space rockets, we have seen how awards like the X-Prize have translated to meaningful technological advancement.* Google Life Sciences' project is the first of many we expect to see, tackling the largest and most challenging problems faced by human beings. Kudos to Google for being the first to offer an award of this magnitude to confront this growing threat! It won't be the last.

* In the past, we forecasted there would be more awards, similar to the X-Prize (see https://www.hermangroup.com/alert/archive_11-26-2008.html) and the prize to address childhood obesity. We guess we were right.

Special thanks to Wired Magazine for calling attention to Google's impressive move.


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