There is a good article and interview in the MIT Technology review on why Tom Insel, who has been head of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) in Bethesda, Maryland, since 2002, quit the NIMH and joined Google / Alphabet. In the article it says that one of the key reasons is that it bothered him that mental illness is still diagnosed on the basis of clusters of symptoms rather than “any objective laboratory measure” such as a biomarker or readout.
“In fact, biological science hasn’t had that many successes against depression or schizophrenia, despite the NIMH’s $1.5 billion a year in grants and research spending. Psychiatric drugs haven’t improved much in recent decades, and searches for the genetic causes of common forms of mental illness haven’t yielded clear answers either.”
Fundamentally he believes that he may be able to have more of an impact in Google / Alphabet on improving the state of the science and in helping people by being in Google / Alphabet than by being in the NIMH.
““In the future, when we think of the private sector and health research, we may be thinking of Apple and IBM more than Lilly and Pfizer,” Insel says.
We recommend you read the entire interview here:
Tom Insel on Why He Ditched the Government to Join Alphabet
The nation’s most influential mental-health scientist says he’s ready to give Silicon Valley a try.