The director of the National Institute of Mental Health, Thomas R. Insel, has been lured away from his position to take up a post with the Google Life Science group at Alphabet, the company formerly known as Google. The team at Google Life Sciences (GLS) are currently looking at ways to develop new technologies which will have the potential to transform all areas of healthcare.
Creating technology for the detection, prevention and management of serious health conditions
Following 13 years service as the National Institute of Mental Health, Insel is delighted to join GLS as he sees the work done there as being of great importance. Their aim is to create technology that is able to help with earlier detection, better prevention and more effective management of serious health conditions. His role will be to explore how this aim can be applied in the areas of mental illness. The fact that GLS have expanded their research into the mental health arena is a significant move and indicates that they recognise the impact of psychotic illnesses, mood disorders and conditions such as autism. It also indicates that they’re looking to increase the amount of effort they put into health projects.
Improving the challenges experienced in understanding, diagnosing and treating mental illness
According to a Google, Insel is joining the team to explore how GLS could improve the challenges experienced when trying to understand, diagnose and treat mental illness, and they are delighted to have someone of such calibre join the team. Considered by many to be the government’s top brain scientist, Insel has often put forward some provocative views and has been labelled as a rebel. Several years ago, he questioned the long term benefits of giving people with schizophrenia antipsychotic drugs, and has also questioned the validity of D.S.M.-5, psychiatry’s diagnostic bible.
However, Insel is well known for his avant-garde approach to mental health research and has been constantly pushing psychiatry to rethink how patients are categorised during research projects, based on their condition. This is one of the areas he hopes to explore further through GLS, especially as while some patients may seem to have a similar condition, their underlying biological problems may be completely different, while those who are similar in biological terms may exhibit totally different symptoms.
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