Alphabet exec departs to head new mental health startup

Thomas Insel, MD, on May 5 left his role at Verily Life Sciences, a company of Google parent Alphabet.

Dr. Insel, a neuroscientist and former director of the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health, is founding a health IT startup called Mindstrong, according to Nature. The startup will study how users' interactions with smartphones can provide insights into mental health through tracking behaviors like voice pattern, location data and others.

Dr. Insel joined Verily in December 2015, according to CNBC. He led Verily's mental health team, which focused on developing technological solutions related to anxiety and depression.

"I felt like Verily was at a point where it was big enough and successful enough I could walk away," he told Nature. "I knew in moving to Verily it would be a transitional job until I could figure out what I really wanted to do, and I've had an entrepreneurial itch."

In a farewell post to Dr. Insel on the Verily blog, the company said it would continue its mental health efforts. However, a Verily spokesperson told CNBC the company is unsure whether it will hire a replacement for Dr. Insel.

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