Google names Verily’s engineering VP Linus Upson as interim head of health

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Google is moving forward quickly with its newly-formed health organization led by former Geisigner CEO David Feinberg.

Before Feinberg officially starts next year, the company has named an interim leader: Linus Upson, the former engineering lead for Google Chrome and now an engineering head at Verily, the Alphabet subsidiary focused on life sciences. That appointment was announced in an internal email to Google employees on Friday, two sources familiar with the hiring told CNBC.

Upson was selected for the job because he has already been a key figure behind-the-scenes in helping drive coordination and strategy across the various Alphabet health units, the sources said.

At Verily, Upson is responsible for “Debug,” the company’s project to curb the spread of mosquitoes that carry disease, along with a variety of other initiatives.

Vivian Lee, another high-ranking Verily employee, will also work closely with Feinberg once he joins Google, sources said.

Alphabet has broadly been trying to improve communication and coordination across its various health teams. Employees have been told that Verily and other Alphabet groups won’t be impacted by Feinberg’s hire and will work closely with the new health team instead, sources said.

Feinberg will report to Google’s AI chief Jeff Dean, who ran the hiring process and took input from other Alphabet health executives to help define the scope of the role, the sources said. It’s essentially a coordination and strategy effort, they said, rather than a company re-org across Alphabet.

Sources said that the decision to hire Feinberg was driven by some external confusion in the marketplace, with some health customers unclear about the difference between Alphabet and Google’s health efforts.

Google declined to comment.

Update: The story has been updated to reflect that this new role will not carry a “CEO” title.

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