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Brainstorm Health: Geisinger CEO to Google, FDA and E-Cigarettes, Theravance/Mylan COPD Approval

November 9, 2018, 10:35 PM UTC

Happy Friday, readers! We had an interesting morning in the Fortune newsroom today…

On Friday, Jeff Dean, the lead of Google Brain and senior fellow at Google AI, announced that the company was poaching some serious talent to lead Google and parent Alphabet’s ever-burgeoning health care initiatives. The talent, in this case, is David Feinberg, the president and CEO of Pennsylvania-based health system Geisinger.

Feinberg’s new role at Google will have him oversee health care and artificial intelligence-related medical initiatives across its sprawling federation of companies (including life sciences arm Verily). “Now we’re thrilled to welcome Dr. David Feinberg to help us organize our health efforts at Google and enhance our collaborations with Verily and across Alphabet. I’m looking forward to his help in using AI to improve healthcare globally!” wrote Dean.

Geisinger is an interesting animal. My colleague Erika Fry covered its pioneering work in electronic medical records, and more recently, AI- and machine-learning fueled technology meant to boost health outcomes, as part of our feature on big data and biology earlier this year. Here’s your money quote: “If data is the oil of modern day, Geisinger—which serves 3 million patients in rural Pennsylvania—may just be health care’s Saudi Arabia.”

Under Feinberg’s leadership, Geisinger has been using all this newfangled tech to optimize the use of operating rooms and prioritize medical image review. All of which goes to show… Maybe Google’s decision to poach this Keystone health care head shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.

Read on for the day’s news, and have a wonderful weekend.

Sy Mukherjee


Moderna files for $500 million IPO. Here's a whopper—Massachusetts-based biotech Moderna has filed for a staggering $500 million IPO. That would be an all-time record for biotech public offerings for a company that has fostered some healthy skepticism (it has no clinical assets despite raising ungodly amounts of cash and is working in the highly experimental world of mRNA therapeutics). If Moderna does achieve its IPO ambitions, it would give the company even more funds for its ambitious plan to harness mRNA, which the company calls the "software of life," to combat diseases. (Boston Globe)

Sequencing Sea World. DNA sequencing leader Illumina teamed up with Sea World, Johns Hopkins, and a number of other partners for one of the more interesting genomic projects I've heard of—a sequencing of the bottlenose dolphin. It's not just a passion project, either. Dolphins and humans share a whole lot in common on the genetic level, especially when it comes to the brain.


Theravance, Mylan win FDA nod for COPD drug. Generic drug giant Mylan and partner Theravance has won Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for Yupelri, a treatment for the debilitating lung condition COPD (the third leading cause of death for Americans). What makes Yupelri unique is that it's an inhaled drug for treating COPD that "nebulizes" the therapy (as opposed to a standard inhaler). That means it turns a liquid drug into a fine mist that's usually taken in via a mouthpiece or face mask. The question is whether Yupelri can make strides in the hotly competitive COPD market. (Reuters)


FDA to throw down the gauntlet on e-cigarettes. The FDA has its daggers out for e-cigarettes and is reportedly slated to announce new rules next week that will prohibit the sale of most flavored vaping products at locations such as convenience stores and gas stations, limiting them to tobacco shops that ostensibly have a higher standard for enforcing age restrictions. Juul has already announced it would stop selling the flavored products in brick-and-mortar stores ahead of the expected FDA announcement. (Fortune)


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Produced by Sy Mukherjee

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