Google’s secretive Project Calico is aimed at defeating death itself – or at least staving it off far longer than ever before. VentureBeat actually reported in November that Kenyon would be joining Calico; she has served as a consultant to the project since then.
The Chronicle confirmed that she has finally left her UCSF post to join Calico full time, although she’ll retain the title of professor emeritus at UCSF. Kenyon’s UCSF lab has focused its research since the 1990s on a small roundworm, C. elegans.
Kenyon’s team found that modifications to a gene called daf-2 resulted in doubling the lifespan of the worms, from two weeks to four; another gene, daf-16, kept them youthful despite their extended ages.
In coming to Calico, Kenyon joins former Genentech chief executive and current Calico CEO Arthur Levinson; former Roche chief medical officer Hal Barron; Robert Cohen, a senior oncologist at Genentech; and David Botstein, the former director of the Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics at Princeton University.
Few details on what exactly Calico is doing have emerged, apart from Google founder Larry Page’s initial post on the project and Levinson’s bland “It’s great to be part of the team” note from September.
In December, VentureBeat called Calico “The most interesting startup in Silicon Valley.”