Alphabet Inc.’s Google Life Sciences (GLS) unit and the American Heart Association have announced a five-year, $50 million research collaboration to uncover the drivers of heart disease. Both organizations will each invest $25 million over five years to support novel strategies to understand, prevent, and reverse coronary heart disease and its consequences, such as heart failure and sudden cardiac death. The research collaboration marks the largest one-time research investment in AHA’s history.
Starting in early 2016, a joint leadership group featuring best and brightest minds from both AHA and Google Life Sciences will appoint a team leader to run the research project. Once appointed, the new team leader will receive the full $50 million in funding over roughly five years to design a program, assemble a cross-functional group of investigators, and lead all efforts towards further finding new causes and drivers of coronary heart disease.
The team will have support across many important areas, including clinical research, engineering, and data analysis, as well as ongoing strategic counsel, oversight and access to resources from the Joint Leadership Group.
“By working together, AHA and Google Life Sciences will be able to serve as the catalyst for change and transformation in reducing the impact of coronary heart disease on people’s lives and alleviating this global burden,” said American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown. “Just imagine if we could reverse coronary artery disease and restore the healthy heart muscle it destroys or, even better, prevent the whole process from beginning in the first place!”
Led by Google Life Sciences, the novel research model will provide the scientific community with channels to technical capabilities and insights. Having access to these resources will help expand research pathways and empower researchers to conceptualize and test new approaches. AHA, the nation’s authority on cardiovascular disease will contribute its vast scientific and medical resources, resulting in the application of a unique blend of technical and scientific knowledge to the search for new cardiovascular solutions.
“This is a fundamentally different kind of model for funding innovation,” said Andy Conrad, CEO of Google Life Sciences in a statment. “The team leader will be able to bring together clinicians, engineers, designers, basic researchers and other experts to think in new ways about the causes of coronary heart disease. We’re already imagining the possibilities when a team like that has access to the full resources of both Google Life Sciences and the AHA — and we can’t wait to see what they discover.”
Cardiovascular diseases are the number one cause of death globally, accounting annually for approximately 17 million deaths, or about one of every three deaths. Coronary heart disease itself is responsible for more than 7 million deaths annually. But the root causes of this disease continue to be explored and a concerted effort, combining technology and medicine, could help.
Because traditional research funding models, which are often incremental and piecemeal, make it difficult to study a multifaceted subject that plays out over many years, AHA and GLS hopes this research project will help provide deeper understanding of cardiovascular disease.