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Google Life Sciences, Alphabet's Health Care Moonshot Lab, Is Now Called 'Verily'

Verily, I swear.


Here come the Alphabet soup renames. Yesterday it was Google Ventures, the conglomerate’s venture arm, which is now just GV.

Today it’s Google Life Sciences, the experimental health care lab that spun out of Google X. Henceforth, it is “Verily.”

The Alphabet company is led by respected biologist Andy Conrad. Linus Upson, a 10-year Google vet who co-founded the Chrome browser with CEO Sundar Pichai, joined as head of engineering in May. As we reported earlier, Upson has been in talks with a leading geneticist about a potential genetic engineering project.

Here’s how the company describes itself on its new site: “Our multidisciplinary teams have access to advanced research tools, large scale computing power, and unique technical expertise. We work with partners from across the industry and many fields of research to develop new technology, launch studies, and start companies.” (It has yet to claim the Verily Twitter handle.)

The unit made its debut inside Google X with the smart contact lens. It entered a licensing agreement with pharmaceutical giant Novartis to sell that device, and has cut other deals around hardware and digital platforms for the treatment of diabetes. Last month, the company said that heart disease would be its next major focus. It also hired the top mental health scientist from the National Institutes of Health.

While the company has, thus far, stuck to partnerships, its three-tiered focus — on medical software, high-tech gadgets and clinical research — may pit Verily against companies in the pharmaceutical industry as well as tech companies, like IBM, moving into biotech.

As for the name: It’s Middle English for “truly.” “Only through the truth are we going to defeat Mother Nature,” Conrad told the health publication Stat News.

“Verily, I swear, ’tis better to be lowly born,
And range with humble livers in content,
Than to be perk’d up in a glistering grief,
And wear a golden sorrow.”

Shakespeare gave that line to Anne Boleyn in “Henry VIII.” She was beheaded.

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