Tempus, a technology company focused on personalizing cancer treatment through the use of big data, just entered a deal with CancerLinQ and Precision HealthAI to structure CancerLinQ’s vast amounts of data.. The CancerLinQ database, which it reports to consist of one million patient records, has been developing ever since the establishment of CancerLinQ LLC, a non-profit subsidiary of ASCO. In a recent article about the deal, CEO of ASCO, Dr. Clifford Hudis said the arrangement is practical as Tempus and Precision HealthAI will be able to analyze the database faster and more effectively than if the operation were to be kept in-house.
Tempus CEO Eric Lefkofsky gave a brief overview of the deal in an interview. He mentioned that ASCO formed CancerLinQ a while back with the goal of amassing large amounts of patient data from providers, who often have the data locked in their electronic medical records. He says CancerLinQ was successful in that sense, but the underlying question was what should be done with all of the records. This challenge led to CancerLinQ seeking assistance from other organizations in structuring and analyzing the data, ultimately leading to the decision to tap Tempus and Precision HealthAI. Lefkofsky notes that there are multiple major benefits that could come from structuring the large CancerLinQ database. Examples include making the deidentified date useful for biotech companies so that it can aid in drug research and development, using the data to design more effective clinical trials, and finally generating insights from the data that can be utilized by oncologists in clinic. The latter is precisely where Tempus plans to deliver value.
Tempus and Precision Health AI were chosen after CancerLinQ came to the conclusion that the data needed to be commercialized in order for it to be cleansed and analyzed effectively. When asked how the two companies would work together, Eric said that he met Precision Health AI during the process of finalizing the deal. He believes the two companies can complement one another. Romesh Wadhwani, CEO of Precision HealthAI, said the company uses its AI platform to manage and deliver large amounts of clinical data, and also makes comparisons between multiple datasets. Lefkofsky says Tempus is focused on building their own sets by combining clinical and molecular data, with the belief that both forms of data are necessary to enter and era of personalized cancer care.
Eric Lefkofsky founded Tempus in 2015. He has stated that he never had plans to enter the healthcare industry, but the motivation came when someone close to him was being treated for cancer. During the experience, he noticed a lack of technology and data in clinical practice. Lefkofsky is a career entrepreneur in the technology industry, and has spent his professional life arming different industries with the power of data. Much of his notoriety comes from Groupon, which he co-founded in 2008 and still serves as chairman. He has also founded a number of other tech companies such as Uptake, Echo Global Logistics, and Innerworkings.
All of these companies are based in Chicago. Lefkofsky is committed to the growth of technological innovation in the city, and spoke at an event in the fall announcing plans for a University of Illinois satellite campus focused on research. He is also a member of the Rise of the Rest, a fund that aims to increase tech opportunity and funding in areas away from the coasts. His venture capital firm, Lightbank, is also focused on investing primarily in the midwest.
While Lefkofsky is originally from Michigan, having received both his undergrad and graduate degrees from the University of Michigan, he now considers Chicago as home and is an active member of its community. His foundation, the Lefkofsky Family Foundation, was started in 2006 with the help of his wife. He serves on the board at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum of Science and Industry, and is chairman of the board at Steppenwolf Theater Company. In addition, Lefkofsky and his wife joined the Giving Pledge in 2013, through which they will join other wealthy individuals in pledging a majority of their fortune to philanthropic causes.
Follow Eric Lefkofsky on Facebook @eplefkofsky.