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Califf Joining Verily

This post has been updated to reflect that Robert Califf announced that he is indeed joining Verily.

Robert Califf, the former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, is joining Alphabet's Verily and Duke University, according to a blog post from Califf at Verily.

"Although we are in the midst of an explosion of capability in the worlds of computing and information, we are still learning how to translate this capacity into better health and healthcare," he writes. "Bridging this gap has been a recurring theme of my career, and it's at the heart of what I hope to accomplish at both institutions."

Califf, a trained cardiologist, is joining Verily's Baseline project, which aims to establish what a healthy person looks like on a range of parameters by following some 10,000 people for four years. CNBC suggested that Califf could have a dual role at Verily and at Stanford University, which has partnered with the company on the Baseline project. In his blog post, Califf notes that he will also have an appointment at Stanford and will work with the Duke Clinical Research Institute.

CNBC adds that snagging Califf could be a coup for Verily, which recently lost Thomas Insel, the former director of the US National Institute of Mental Health from its ranks. Alphabet in general has seen some high-profile departures recently as Tony Fadell left Nest, Bill Maris left the company's venture capital arm, and Craig Barratt left Google Fiber.

It notes that after leaving FDA, Califf told Forbes that the way new drugs and medical devices are tested are outdated. "The traditional clinical trial is an antiquated endeavor," Califf said, according to Forbes. Instead, he suggested that companies conduct A/B comparison tests — tests more common among technology companies — that pit one intervention against another.