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Andrew Conrad, who runs Google’s ambitious biotech offshoot, successfully pushed the company to award a research contract to a luxury health clinic he largely owns that has no documented experience with this kind of work, STAT has learned. The arrangement has stirred concern inside Verily Life Sciences — and among corporate governance experts who see it as a conflict of interest.
Verily is also marketing to pharmaceutical companies a wealth of data on volunteers who participate in its major health study, called Baseline. It’s unclear whether Verily has informed volunteers of its plans to profit on their health data; the company declined to provide a copy of the consent agreement for volunteers tested at Conrad’s clinic.
Ethical questions about the Baseline study have raised further concerns within Verily about Conrad, a biologist who exercises substantial control over Verily’s big budget projects. STAT reported that many key leaders have left the company, in large part because of concerns about Conrad’s leadership. Former employees and contractors described his managerial style as disrespectful and demoralizing. They said Conrad exaggerates what Verily can deliver and shifts resources from prior commitments to new ideas that show little promise.
Neither Conrad nor officials from his clinic — located in a sumptuous resort in southern California — will disclose what relevant experience the facility has in the complex research required for Verily’s Baseline project, which aims to collect genetic, molecular, clinical, and other data on 10,000 patients over the next five years.
Read full, original post: Google’s biotech venture hit by ethical concerns over deal with luxury clinic