News Ben Robbins

One of the little-known secrets of GV's life sciences team is that none of us had dreams of becoming an investor. Everyone came in as a physician, scientist, or operator with aspirations to move the healthcare system forward. As a group, we want to change how healthcare is delivered, make drug delivery smarter, and improve all aspects of people's access to care. Until we joined GV, most of us worked within the resources of a hospital system or a university. Those resources are powerful, but they are bound by those institutions and their mandates. That said, academics and clinicians are often a central source of the most potent ideas for tackling the most critical and complex problems in healthcare.

How do we find people who are really focused on solving these problems in a significant way? GV met Ben Robbins more than a decade ago through Ariadne Labs, a healthcare innovation center founded at Brigham and Women's Hospital in partnership with Harvard's Chan School of Public Health. Even while Ben was deep into his intensive Harvard MD/MBA program, he had a generalist approach and was always eager to explore new topics and go above and beyond to get to the right answer. He was especially interested in how clinical delivery research could be translated into practice at scale.

Ben's journey to transform healthcare started after graduating from Dartmouth. He spent two years in Tanzania developing an elementary school for AIDS orphans, building facilities, and arranging for physicians to treat various illnesses such as parasites, malaria, and complications from HIV and AIDS. As the orphans grew healthier, Ben saw the profound impact of creative solutions to deliver healthcare. This experience led him to Harvard's MD/MBA program and ultimately to complete a residency in psychiatry at Massachusetts General and McLean, two of the country's top psychiatry departments.

Ben invests broadly in areas where new services or technologies could improve how patient care is delivered or our healthcare system operates. Since joining GV in 2014 as a venture partner, Ben has built a track record of investing in more than 20 transformative healthcare delivery and therapeutics companies, including Aspire (acquired by Anthem), Carebridge, Patina Health, Headway, Brightline, Nym, Cerevance, and Waltz Health.

While he has made investments in areas like hospital infrastructure, primary care, and palliative care, mental health is also a focus — it's an area with immense need, and his direct experience as a psychiatrist provides a particularly unique vantage point. When it comes to mental health, significant gaps persist in our ecosystem, particularly in geriatrics, pediatrics, and serious mental illness. Only about 50% of people with a mental health diagnosis receive treatment; about 1 in 10 adults with a mental illness have no insurance coverage.

Geriatric psychiatry is an area of particular need, with fewer than 1500 active geriatric psychiatrists in the U.S. — and that number shrinks as new trainees entering the field fail to keep pace with the number of retiring clinicians. We now have less than one geriatric psychiatrist for every 6000 older adults with a mental health diagnosis; two states have no geriatric psychiatrists at all.

What if we can find ways to reduce barriers to care through easier access to clinicians and creative delivery approaches that avoid stigma? We could help more people while removing excess costs from the system, and it's a meaningful thesis. If we can partner with companies that help realize it, that will benefit patients, their providers, and overall healthcare costs.

The possibilities are endless, and we look forward to many years of working with Ben to tackle some of the hardest problems in healthcare today. We couldn't be more excited to recognize Ben as GV's newest general partner!