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SAN FRANCISCO — It used to be that big-name health care officials and executives on their way out of power would take a cozy perch at a university. Now? More and more of them are landing at Google companies.

Dr. Toby Cosgrove, the longtime president and CEO of Cleveland Clinic, is the latest health care bigwig to pick Google as a landing pad. He’ll become an executive adviser to Google Cloud’s team working on health care and life sciences, the company announced recently.

Cosgrove’s new coworkers at Alphabet, Google’s parent company, will include a growing who’s-who list in health care: There’s Dr. Robert Califf, the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration who joined Alphabet’s life sciences unit Verily not long after leaving office at the end of the Obama administration. There’s Dr. Vivian Lee, who joined Verily in May about a year after resigning as the leader of the University of Utah’s health system.


Another high-profile hire, the longtime National Institute of Mental Health director Dr. Thomas Insel, made a pit stop at Verily after leaving government. He’s since moved on to co-found Mindstrong Health, a Silicon Valley startup working on technology to monitor and diagnose mental illness.

The moves are a sign of Alphabet’s rise as a formidable player in health care — even as the hype and funding so far outpaces tangible accomplishments.


It’s no mystery why the likes of Cosgrove would find Alphabet to be an appealing place for their next act. Just as Silicon Valley enticed a generation of ambitious coders and entrepreneurs, it’s increasingly seen as a hotbed for cutting-edge ideas in health care.

And Alphabet in particular offers the security and prestige of an established industry giant — while pouring huge amounts of money into its many teams working on health care and biomedicine. Last month, Alphabet announced it would commit $500 million more to fund Calico, its spinout focusing on basic research into the biology of aging.

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