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Another high-profile departure for Alphabet's 'Other Bets': Thomas Insel leaves Verily

  • Sources: Thomas Insel is leaving Verily, Alphabet's life sciences arm.
  • He is the latest in a series of high-profile departures from Alphabet's "other bets."
  • The mental health initiative at Verily will continue in his absence, according to a company spokesperson.
Thomas Insel speaks before presenting Natural Sciences award winners Xu Liu and Steve Ramirez at the Smithsonian Magazine 3rd Annual American Ingenuity Awards dinner at the National Portrait Gallery on October 16, 2014 in Washington, DC.
Larry French | Getty Images
Thomas Insel speaks before presenting Natural Sciences award winners Xu Liu and Steve Ramirez at the Smithsonian Magazine 3rd Annual American Ingenuity Awards dinner at the National Portrait Gallery on October 16, 2014 in Washington, DC.

Dr. Thomas Insel, one of Verily's most prestigious hires from the health-care sector, has left the company.

Insel joined in December 2015 to head up the company's mental health team, but left in the past few weeks.

Verily is the life sciences arm of Alphabet, Google's parent company. The company confirmed Insel's departure with CNBC, and later in a blog post. After conducting "in-depth user studies," the authors say the team will focus on "enabling greater access to a human-centered care experience."

The mental health effort will continue in his absence, but it's too soon to say whether his role will be replaced, Verily spokesperson Carolyn Wang said.

Insel, a neuroscientist, was heading up an initiative to develop new technologies to combat anxiety and depression. Prior to joining the company, he led the National Institute of Mental Health. Insel recruited several other high-profile technologists and academics to his team, including Verily product manager Collin Walter; UC San Francisco's Danielle Schlosser and Stanford psychiatrist Honor Hsin.

Verily's chief medical officer Jessica Mega is also involved with the initiative.

"Verily is resolved to make a difference for people with mental health conditions," said Wang, who stressed that the team will continue the mental health program without disruption.

Insel is the latest in a series of high-profile departures from Alphabet's "other bets," which spun out from Google. These companies are targeting futuristic markets beyond Google's core Internet advertising business. Unlike the majority of these initiatives, Verily is reportedly already profitable.

Those who exited Alphabet in 2016 include Tony Fadell, who left Nest in the summer of 2016; Bill Maris, from investment arm GV; Google Fiber chief Craig Barratt; and Project Wing drone program head Dave Vos.