Virely

Photo: National Institute of Mental Health

Google start-up Verily Life Sciences has announced that Dr. Thomas Insel, former director of the US National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), has left his post at the company. Verily made the announcement via a blog post on their website on Monday.

“We are bidding a fond farewell to Dr. Thomas Insel, who has helped shape our vision and to build a multidisciplinary team of mental health clinical researchers, data scientists, product designers, and software engineers, all passionately committed to rethinking the way we approach diagnosis and care in mental health,” the blog post read. “We look forward to carrying this vision forward!”


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Insel joined Verily, then Google Life Sciences, in 2015 after leaving NIMH. The company’s core aim is to develop and use novel technologies to improve human health. One aspect of this goal was to try to better understand mental illness and hopefully to develop ways of treating a multitude of conditions including mood disorders, psychosis, and autism. Insel joined the company to further this goal.

Since then, as noted by STAT News, Verily hasn’t unveiled any mental health products and several of Verily’s other projects have encountered technical difficulties. Insel’s leaving might be reflective of these challenges, especially when viewed alongside the loss of Verily’s Chief Science Officer Vikram Bajaj, who transferred to Illumina’s spin-out Grail in the autumn.

Nonetheless, the blog post containing the announcement remained positive. “We are collaborating closely with our machine learning colleagues, who are collecting deep datasets across other chronic conditions. Leveraging these core capabilities, our goal is to develop a next generation measurement-based care platform that will empower a holistic and personalized approach to treatment,” it said. “Our team at Verily is evolving, but our vision and commitment remain steadfast.”

Neither Insel nor Verily have offered a reason for his departure.