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Serge Brin and Larry Page both come into the open regarding their health issues

Frankfurt Book Fair

Google CEO Larry Page has been conspicuous by his absence at many Google events, and when he did appear he seemed reluctant to talk.  Co-founder Sergey Brin is facing a health problem of his own, which while more indirect, comes with significantly more long term connotations than that of his partner.

 / By Yoel Bermant /

One of the most important events in the “geek calendar” is Google’s renowned I/O conference now in its sixth years. The annual conference is most definitely developer-focused featuring highly technical, in-depth sessions including all the latest web technologies.

The general interpretation for the global conference is to bring “Innovation into the Open”. However, this year’s conference was held under a cloud with the Google founders now both having come into the open regarding some serious health issues that they are facing

Google remain one of the strongest players on the Internet scene largely due to the undoubted talents and vision of the joint founders Serge Brin and Larry Page. No approaching their forties, and with multibillion fortunes Brin and Page always on the lookout for new innovations and challenges, whilst having to face a few issues that even the ultra-wealthy cannot escape.

For example over the last year so Google CEO Larry Page has been conspicuous by his absence at many Google events, and when he did appear he seemed reluctant to talk. However, just before the conference, the news eventually leaked out that Page is suffering from a rare form of vocal cord paralysis, and has done so since his mid-twenties, having been diagnosed with a form of paralysis on his left vocal cord. The situation was made considerably worse after he contracted a heavy cold last summer that left him with a paralyzed right vocal cord, which severely curtailed his ability to speak. While the situation has improved since then, it now means that Larry Page speaks in a very hoarse tone, making it very difficult for him to be understood.

With the audience at the Google I/O conference  now well aware of Page’s health situation the fact that he did not make speak at the event caused no major upsets. Whether he will be able to provide his insights into the future of Internet technology, at least in the spoken word, remains unknown at this stage. In the meantime Page has been helped to admit that he regards himself as a more effective CEO because he needs to choose his words more carefully.

Meanwhile fellow Google co-founder Sergey Brin is facing a health problem of his own, which while more indirect, comes with significantly more long term connotations than that of his partner.

Brin has already known for a number of  years that he stands a high  statistical chance (more than 50%)  of developing Parkinson’s disease, the degenerative central nervous system disorder.  Should he become afflicted by the disease it would  impair his motor skills and speech, and in extreme cases could even become fatal.

Sergey Brin revealed an interview around five years ago that he is carrying a mutation of a gene under the title of LRRK2, which will increase the possibility that the disease will emerge sometime in his life. The risk for the average American of contracting Parkinson’s is one percent.

Brin first became aware of the clear possibilities that he would contract this wasting disease was when his mother, Eugenia, at that time a computer scientist at the North American Space Agency ( NASA ), first began to suffer symptoms of Parkinson’s in 1997 while aged just 49.

To help combat the disease to date Brin has donated $132 million, mostly through the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, with most of our funding going towards creating a DNA database covering 7, 000 Parkinson’s sufferers, as well as to provide research support on pinpointing the first targeted treatments designed to aim at the genetic causes of the movement disorder.

When interviewed on the subject, Brin was quoted as saying that if he felt it would guarantee finding a cure for Parkinson’s disease he had he lived happily right a check for a billion dollars, and it would be the easiest one they would ever have written.

Also involved in the project is Brin’s wife, Anne Wojcicki, who has been involved in the creation of a database of genetic information, which has so far succeeded in discovering that Brin among thousands of others was a carrier of the Parkinson’s gene.

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