MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — Google employees, squeezed onto metal risers and standing in the back of a meeting room, erupted in cheers as newly arrived executive Andrew Conrad announced they would try to turn science fiction into reality: The tech giant had formed a biotech venture to create a futuristic device like Star Trek’s iconic “Tricorder” diagnostic wizard — and use it to cure cancer.
Conrad, recalled an employee who was present, displayed images on the room’s big screens showing nanoparticles tracking down cancer cells in the bloodstream and flashing signals to a Fitbit-style wristband. He promised a working prototype of the cancer early-detection device within six months.
That was three years ago. Recently departed employees said the prototype didn’t work as hoped, and the Tricorder project is floundering.
Verily’s projects are too ambitious for its size and budget. Unless leadership realizes this, there will be large amounts of good money spent fruitlessly. It needs collaborate not compete with established research agencies such as NIH, NHBLI, NCI.
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