Google appoints former Obama health official Karen DeSalvo to new chief health officer role

Key Points
  • Google, which is aggressively going after the health market, has hired ex-Obama administration official Karen DeSalvo as the company's first chief health officer.
  • Late last year, Google hired David Feinberg, who had served as CEO of Geisinger, to oversee its strategy in the $3 trillion health-care sector.
An employee passes the Google logo.
Carsten Koall/Getty Images

Google confirmed on Thursday that it has hired Karen DeSalvo, a former health official in the Obama administration, as its first chief health officer.

The addition of DeSalvo, who has spent the past two years teaching at the University of Texas at Austin's Dell Medical School, comes weeks after Alphabet tapped former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Robert M. Califf to lead the company's health and strategy policy.

Califf and DeSalvo will start later this year.

Google and parent company Alphabet are investing broadly in the health industry, from researching new drugs and devices to bolstering its cloud-computing business to serve more companies in life sciences. Late last year, Google hired David Feinberg, who had served as CEO of Geisinger, to oversee its expansion in the $3 trillion health-care sector.

Reporting to Feinberg, DeSalvo will advise Google on providers, doctors and nurses across the company's cloud unit and Alphabet's life sciences arm Verily, where she has been on the advisory board. DeSalvo, who is on several medical boards, previously served as assistant health secretary and national coordinator for health information technology in President Barack Obama's Health and Human Services Department.

Feinberg has been consolidating teams across the company, including its hardware unit and artificial intelligence division DeepMind. Last month, DeepMind announced that Its technology is able to predict if a patient has potentially fatal kidney injuries 48 hours before many symptoms can be recognized by doctors.

Correction: Due to an editing error, a previous version of this story misstated the size of the health-care sector.

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