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Arthur Levinson
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Arthur Levinson

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Just over two months ago Larry and I launched Calico. We said then that with the right goals, culture and people, we believe we can make good progress on health and well-being, in particular the challenge of staying youthful, healthy and disease-free for a longer time.

Today I am pleased to announce that four of the brightest and most accomplished individuals in the fields of medicine, drug development, molecular biology and genetics have joined Calico.

• Hal V. Barron, M.D.
• David Botstein, Ph.D.
• Robert Cohen, M.D.
• Cynthia Kenyon, Ph.D.

Hal Barron is one of the most respected clinician-scientists and successful drug developers in the biotechnology industry. Hal will join us as President, Research and Development. Hal was most recently Executive Vice President, Head of Global Product Development and Chief Medical Officer of Hoffmann-La Roche. There he was responsible for all the products in the combined portfolio of Roche and Genentech.  Barron joined Genentech in 1996 as a clinical scientist. During the next several years, he held positions of increasing responsibility and leadership within Cardiovascular Research and Specialty Therapeutics. In 2002 Barron was promoted to vice president, Medical Affairs. In 2003 he became the senior vice president of Development and in 2004 he was appointed chief medical officer. In 2003 he became the senior vice president of Development. In 2004 he was appointed chief medical officer and in 2009 he was appointed executive vice president.

Prior to joining Genentech, Barron received his Bachelor of Science in physics from Washington University in St. Louis, his Medical Degree from Yale University and completed his training in medicine and cardiology at the University of California San Francisco. Barron’s academic positions include Associate Adjunct Professor at the University of California, San Francisco. He has been issued several patents for his work in thrombosis and angiogenesis and has published more than 90 papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

David Botstein is one of the world’s leading geneticists, and will join Calico as Chief Scientific Officer. He comes to us from Princeton University, where he was Director of the Lewis-Sigler Institute from 2003-2013, and where he remains the Anthony B. Evnin Professor of Genomics. David was educated at Harvard (A.B.) and the University of Michigan (Ph.D.). He taught at MIT (1967-1987); became Vice President at Genentech (1987-1990), and then Chairman of Genetics at Stanford (1990-2003). He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1981 and the Institute of Medicine in 1993. Among his awards are the Eli Lilly Award (1978),  the Genetics Society Medal (1988), the American Society for Human Genetics Allen Award (1989), the Rosenstiel Award, 1992, the Gruber Prize in Genetics (2003), the Albany Medical Center Prize (2010), the Dan David Prize (2012) and the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences (2013).

Botstein contributed to the discovery of transposons in bacteria and an understanding of their physical and genetic properties. He devised genetic methods to study the eukaryotic cytoskeleton in yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae), notably general ways of detecting gene interactions. In 1980 he made theoretical contributions to human genetics by suggesting, with collaborators, a way to map human disease genes with DNA polymorphisms called restriction fragment length polymorphisms (RFLPs). This became a cornerstone of the new science of genomics. He later founded the Saccharomyces Genome Database (with J. Michael Cherry) and applied DNA microarray technology (with Patrick O. Brown) to study genome-wide gene expression, notably defining thereby clinically significant subtypes of human tumors. Most recently, he has been devising and using genome-scale methods for studying system-level regulation of gene expression and gene interactions. At Princeton, Botstein established a new introductory science curriculum that combines biology, physics, chemistry, and computer science.

Bob Cohen will be joining as a Calico Fellow, in a role that will span R&D and Business Development. Bob was most recently Senior Oncology Fellow at Genentech. Bob joined Genentech’s Research organization in 1994 from University of California, San Francisco, where he trained in hematology and oncology and served as Assistant Professor in Residence in the Cancer Research Institute. During his first decade at Genentech, Bob participated in leadership roles that contributed to the development of several of the company's ground-breaking cancer drugs. He joined Business Development full-time in 2004 and was appointed Senior Oncology Fellow in 2008. Over the past several years he has focused on the development of antibody-drug conjugates, a means of delivering targeted chemotherapy to tumors. He is an inventor of nine issued U.S. patents.

Bob has a Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry from Amherst College and an M.D. with Distinction in Research from the University of Rochester. He completed his residency in internal medicine at the University of Michigan and is board-certified in internal medicine, hematology and oncology.

Cynthia Kenyon is one of the world’s foremost authorities on the molecular biology and genetics of aging and life extension, and will be joining Calico as Senior Scientific Advisor. In 1993, Cynthia’s pioneering discovery that a single-gene mutation could double the lifespan of healthy, fertile C. elegans roundworms sparked an intensive study of the molecular biology of aging. Her findings showed that, contrary to popular belief, aging does not “just happen” in a completely haphazard way. Instead, aging is a regulated process controlled by specific genes. Using C. elegans, she has now discovered many evolutionarily-conserved life-extending genes and pathways. In particular, her findings have led to the realization that a universal hormone-signaling pathway influences the rate of aging in many species, including humans.  

Cynthia graduated valedictorian in chemistry from the University of Georgia in 1976. She received her Ph.D. from MIT in 1981 and was a postdoctoral fellow with Nobel laureate Sydney Brenner in Cambridge, England. Since 1986 she has been at the University of California, San Francisco. Cynthia is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and she a former president of the Genetics Society of America. She has received many scientific awards. Currently, she is an American Cancer Society Professor at UCSF, and she directs UCSF’s Hillblom Center for the Biology of Aging, positions she will continue, while she joins Calico on a part-time basis.

We invite you to stay tuned over the following months as we continue to build out our team of exceptional scientists and clinicians.
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I would work at Calico. I would love to help the human kind reaching the holy grail of science. :)
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Arthur Levinson

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You may have seen the news (http://goo.gl/KjRE4q) that Google and I will be starting a new company focused on health, aging and well-being, called Calico. I’m honored and incredibly enthusiastic about this opportunity, and eager to get started. 

I suspect there are a lot of questions, such as how this came about, what we hope to accomplish, and why “Calico.” When I served on Google’s board, +Larry Page and I got to know each other well—and when he and Bill Maris approached me about a venture that would take the long term view on aging and illness, I was deeply intrigued. For example, what underlies aging?  Might there be a direct link between certain diseases and the aging process? We agreed that with great people, a strong culture and vision and a healthy disregard for the impossible, we could make progress tackling these questions, and improving people’s lives. 

Calico is an abbreviation for the “California Life Company,” but if you’re thinking about cats, we like the old saying that they have nine lives... 

I want to thank several people who have been supportive of this venture, especially Tim Cook, Franz Humer, Bill Maris and my family. 

Finally, this would not be possible without Larry, whose focus on outsized improvements is motivating and inspiring, and I couldn’t be more excited about what lies ahead. 
 
I’m excited to announce Calico, a new company that will focus on health and well-being, in particular the challenge of aging and associated diseases.  Art Levinson, Chairman and former CEO of Genentech and Chairman of Apple, will be Chief Executive Officer.

OK … so you’re probably thinking wow!  That’s a lot different from what Google does today.  And you’re right.  But as we explained in our first letter to shareholders, there’s tremendous potential for technology more generally to improve people’s lives.  So don’t be surprised if we invest in projects that seem strange or speculative compared with our existing Internet businesses.  And please remember that new investments like this are very small by comparison to our core business.

Art and I are excited about tackling aging and illness.  These issues affect us all—from the decreased mobility and mental agility that comes with age, to life-threatening diseases that exact a terrible physical and emotional toll on individuals and families.  And while this is clearly a longer-term bet, we believe we can make good progress within reasonable timescales with the right goals and the right people.

Our press release has a few more details though it’s still very early days so there’s not much more to share yet.  Of course when Art has something more substantial to communicate (and that will likely take time), he’ll provide an update.  Finally, thanks to Bill Maris for helping bring this idea to life and getting Art involved, and to Sergey Brin for consistently supporting 10X thinking like this.  It’s hard for many companies to make long term investments.  So I’m tremendously excited about the innovative new way we’re funding this project.  Now for the hard work!

http://googlepress.blogspot.com/2013/09/calico-announcement.html
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the best thing to focus on would be the sens approach as pioneered by the methuselah foundation. most of their strategy looks to be very sound, and their rationale is very appropriate to the problem of aging. i would ignore their particular approach to cancer, but the rest of it looks excellent.
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CEO of Calico & Chairman of Apple