Verily’s Luba Greenwood has told MobiHealthNews that she left the Alphabet subsidiary to pursue lecturing at Harvard University as well continue her work on several boards.
Greenwood took up her role at Verily, where she served as business development manager, in February of 2018. According to Verily officials Greenwood left the company in April. In a recent interview with MobiHealthNews, Greenwood discussed the importance of educating the upcoming workforce about the convergence of various disciplines making up digital health.
“This is exactly why I decided to teach the course at Harvard, which is actually a course within The Paulson School of Engineering — which is where computer sciences and engineering comes out of — together with the [Harvard] Graduate School of Design, [where] you want a true convergence,” Greenwood said. “So not just somebody that comes out of pure tech and tries to go into the clinical side, or somebody that comes out of medical school and takes a few computer science courses and is suddenly an expert. You really want to have ... the convergence of industry. And this is the piece that really needs to be built out ... making sure [on the academic side] that we are bringing in different expertise at the educational level. So here you have design, computer science, and now you put it together and then you think about how do you effect industry by combining these two areas.”
In addition to her new role at Harvard, she will also continue her work as a board member at MassBio and advisor at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.
Greenwood has stressed that in order to create a thriving digital health ecosystem, cross-discipline education is essential at every level — not just the top.
“It is not just at the CEO level,” Greenwood said. “A lot of science people think about 'Who do we have as the CEO?' There are many articles that are talking about, 'Do you want someone with an MD? Do you want someone [from] a computer science world?' If you want to have a real ecosystem, real entrepreneurship, in an area where we come up with more than gadgets and fun things — where we come up with solutions to meet real medical need, unmet medical needs — you need [collaboration].”
Greenwood is in a unique position when it comes this cross section: she has experience across fields that include pharma, law and business.
Prior to her role at Verily, Greenwood was the VP of global mergers and acquisitions and business development at Roche, according to her LinkedIn. She has also worked as the senior legal counsel at Pfizer for M&A and corporate compliance. Her experience also includes the venture space with a previous role at Colt Ventures.
Further, Greenwood is no stranger to academia. A trained attorney, she has taught courses at Boston University School of Law, specializing in life sciences, as well as at the university’s business school.
WHY IT MATTERS
More and more often, conversations are emerging about educating the next generation of digital health employees. Greenwood stressed the importance of bringing in a variety of viewpoints.
“In tech we have seen many digital companies coming into the life sciences, some with a quite limited knowledge and understanding of life sciences — the complexity of biology, the complexity of what is a disease, and how you even diagnose a disease,” Greenwood said on a panel at BIO 2018. “So putting together the tech piece, the AI and the proper annotation of the data, we are getting to draw meaningful insight and at the same time at a reduced cost, rather than [at] an increased cost to the patient.”
THE LARGER TREND
Greenwood isn’t the first big name to depart Verily in recent years.
Dr. Thomas Insel, also former director of the National Institute of Mental Health, left the organization in 2017 in order to focus on his startup called Mindstrong.
And just last year Dr. Joshua Mandel announcedplans to leave his position at Verily as health IT ecosystem lead for a position as chief architect at Microsoft Healthcare.
Correction: A previous version of this story listed Greenwood as "head of business, corporate development and ventures lead" her title has been updated for accuracy. This story has also been updated to include the month of her departure.