Amazon taps ex-FDA official for its health team, 1492

Former FDA Chief Health Informatics Officer Taha Kass-Hout, MD, is joining Amazon's Grand Challenge team, an effort focused on health that has been referred to internally as 1492, according to CNBC.

Although Amazon has been quiet about its healthcare initiatives, the Grand Challenge team has been likened to Google X, a lab dedicated to developing technology moonshots. In fact, former Google X Director Babak Parviz leads the Grand Challenge team, CNBC reports.

Dr. Kass-Hout will be in charge of business development for the team's healthcare projects. He previously served as senior vice president and chief digital health and intelligence officer at Livonia, Mich.-based Trinity Health, but left in May 2017, according to his LinkedIn profile that hasn't been updated since. He also held senior government roles at the CDC and was the first-ever chief health informatics officer for the FDA.

Since Amazon has a slew of healthcare projects underway, including bringing the Alexa voice assistant into healthcare, looking to disrupt the drug supply chain and selling medical supplies to hospitals — not to mention its joint venture with JPMorgan & Chase and Berkshire Hathaway — its not yet clear what specific role Dr. Kass-Hout will play. However, a statement on his LinkedIn profile notes his goals of "empowering consumers via sustainable health data ecosystems."  

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