Reflecting technology’s increased focus in health and medicine, GV today announced its hire of biotechnology veteran David Schenkein to co-lead life science investments for Alphabet’s venture capital firm.
David Schenkein has a long history in the field and was most recently CEO of Agios Pharmaceuticals. Over a 10 year period, the startup developed two FDA-approved cancer drugs. That timeline is considered to be one of the fastest in the industry, with the hematologist and oncologist hoping to bring that sense of speed to GV investments.
He remains on the board of the $3.1 billion biotech company as its Executive Chairman. Before joining in 2009, Dr. Schenkein was senior vice president of clinical hematology/oncology at Genentech for three years.
The hire by GV (via Bloomberg) reflects the Alphabet division’s long interest in life sciences, with Schenkein joining as a General Partner. Notable investments include 23andMe and other consumer-oriented companies, as well as drugmakers working on cancer and Alzheimer treatments, as well as gene-editing therapies.
Last February, Googler-founded and GV-backed Flatiron Health was acquired by Swiss medical giant Roche for $1.9 billion. The startup set out to “combine some of the best minds in medicine and technology to transform the way cancer is understood and treated.”
While Schenkein’s expertise is in oncology, he notes in the Bloomberg interview an interest in working with companies fcoussed on other areas of health. The doctor cited Alphabet’s vast technology resources and scope as a reason he joined GV.
Other parts of Alphabet working on health include Verily and Google. The dedicated company focussing on applying technology to life sciences has been known to invest in startups, including by offering “pioneering start-ups” lab and office space.
Meanwhile, inside Google, a health division is being spun up to combine various projects and interests like AI, Nest, and even Google Fit. Late last year, a DeepMind team working on an AI medical assistant was brought into Google to join the newly-formed team.