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Alphabet Inc.’s venture-capital arm has hired a new senior partner with experience mentoring biotechnology companies as the firm makes a stronger push to launch and invest in healthcare startups.

In December GV, formerly Google Ventures, hired Cathy Friedman, a former biotech investment banker, as an executive venture partner tasked with advising healthcare startups and helping them build their businesses. She joins biotech executive Dan Lynch, hired for the same role earlier in 2021. GV also recently hired Scott Biller, a member of the board of GV portfolio company Rome Therapeutics Inc., as a part-time executive venture partner.

Mountain View, Calif.-based GV was formed in 2009 and has invested in technology and healthcare from the outset. The firm, which has 32 people on its investment team in total, has been growing its healthcare practice, expanding that investment group to 17 from seven over the last three years.

GV has added professionals to help it incubate and back biomedical startups in their earliest stages, a strategy that has grown more common in biotech venture capital in recent years as firms compete to back the most-promising new science.

Ms. Friedman serves as an independent director on the boards of companies such as Lyell Immunopharma Inc., a cancer-drug developer that went public in 2021, and Seer Inc., a protein-research technology company that went public in 2020.

Earlier in her career she spent nearly 24 years with investment bank Morgan Stanley, holding roles such as co-head of the firm’s biotech practice.

Mr. Lynch previously was chief executive and chief financial officer of biotech company ImClone Systems Inc. and now serves on the boards of biotech companies including publicly traded SpringWorks Therapeutics Inc.

Corporate venture arms often invest in areas of interest to the company. GV, which has $8 billion in funds from Alphabet under management, isn’t a strategic investor and is free to back Alphabet competitors, according to the firm. GV, which invests in tech and healthcare from a single pool of capital, receives allocations from Alphabet but hasn’t publicly disclosed specifics about them, according to the firm.

Within healthcare, GV considers a wide range of opportunities and has invested $1 billion in the field since the start of 2020, said David Schenkein, who co-leads the healthcare investment team with Managing Partner Krishna Yeshwant. Dr. Schenkein previously was CEO of biotech company Agios Pharmaceuticals Inc. before joining GV in 2019. A third of the dollars GV has invested since its formation has gone to healthcare, according to the firm.

GV-backed healthcare companies include cancer blood-testing firm Grail Inc., which was acquired by Illumina Inc. in 2021; primary-care services company 1Life Healthcare Inc., better known as One Medical, which went public in 2020; and Flatiron Health, an oncology-data platform startup acquired by Roche Holding AG in 2018.

Ms. Friedman said that part of the appeal of GV is that it has a single backer and can take a long-term approach to investing in startups.

GV incubated Verve Therapeutics Inc., which launched in 2018 and went public in 2021, to develop potential gene-editing cures for coronary diseases. Verve’s approach involves risk because it is new, but GV was willing to bet on the long-term potential, said co-founder and CEO Sekar Kathiresan, adding that Verve expects initial clinical trials to begin this year.

“They really gravitated to the big idea we proposed," Dr. Kathiresan said. “They want to see the idea play out over time."

GV in April 2021 teamed up with OrbiMed Advisors and ARCH Venture Partners to lead a Series A financing in newly formed Treeline Biosciences Inc., a biotech company that seeks to discover cancer treatments using biological, chemistry and computational technologies.

Treeline co-founder and CEO Josh Bilenker said he wanted to tap into Dr. Schenkein’s biotech-operating experience and that, as artificial intelligence and computational tools become increasingly important in biotech, it would be valuable to have an investor connected to resources and experts in these areas.

GV incubated Rome Therapeutics with the help of Rosana Kapeller, a former entrepreneur-in-residence with the firm. Rome uses machine learning and other technologies to develop drugs for cancer and autoimmune diseases by analyzing long stretches of the genome consisting of repetitive sequences. GV helped Rome recruit computer scientist Menachem Fromer to serve as its head of data science, said Dr. Kapeller, who is now CEO of Rome and a GV fellow.

“When it’s time to recruit people we have that brand and it’s really helpful," Dr. Kapeller said.

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