Eric Lefkofsky’s Big Data analytics startup, Tempus, is one of Chicago’s top ten health techs with an aim to become the world’s largest library of cancer care data. By partnering with Precision Health AI, a New York-based startup in artificial intelligence, and obtaining access to CancerLinQ, it recently took a step closer to that goal. CancerLinQ is a database of treatment results on about 600,000 patients, and it is developed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the top organization of cancer doctors. Having this data at their disposal, the Tempus team hopes to tackle the problem of gathering enough information in order to establish patterns that highlight better treatments. In other words, it hopes to bring Big Data to cancer.
Lefkofsky is optimistic and calls the 10-year partnership “groundbreaking.” “This gives us access to significant volume of patients and clinical data.” “With current contracts and partnerships, Tempus will touch 25 percent to 30 percent of cancer patients next year.”
Tempus has partnered with about 50 research hospitals including Northwestern, University of Chicago, Rush University as well as the Mayo Clinic, the University of Michigan, the Cleveland Clinic, Duke University School of Medicine, the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center and Knight Cancer Institute at the OHSU.
Tempus has raised $130 million in venture capital and has expanded to a team of 300 since Lefkofsky founded it two years ago. It offers an interactive and analytical machine learning platform through which it enables physicians to deliver personalized cancer care for patients. It achieves that by transforming unstructured data into an organized database of every patient’s information, by producing molecular data by analyzing cancer patients’ DNA and RNA as means to uncover more personalized treatment options and by generating actionable insights for more impactful outcomes. The company’s goal is for each patient to benefit from the treatment of others who came before by providing physicians with tools that learn as Tempus gathers more data. This information is also beneficial for drug companies that pay for access to such data to improve drug development.
Over the past two years, CancerLinQ has received patient data from the Alexandria, Va.-based oncology society that has established collaborations with more than 100 practices and hospitals with more than 2,000 physicians. However, CancerLinQ’s challenge is to assemble the vast amounts of data from medical records that are not always in the same format. According to Dr. Clifford Hudis, chairman of the CancerLinQ board of governors, “Records aren’t consistently structured. It’s different from travel reservations or banking. It’s tremendously complicated. To make sense of it, we have to organize it.”
Furthermore, he stated that the collaboration with Tempus will yield “a minimum fixed revenue stream, an improved data set, and we get technical expertise and knowhow to develop tools and applications for our members.”
Hudis also states that “We realized we needed to (commercialize the data) early on.” “What we’re taking in is raw data. We do cleaning and curation and analysis, which is limited by our bandwidth and resources. This deal provides additional strength and capacity.”
Tempus’ teaming up with Precision Health was an effort to beat several other competitors that were after the 10-year CancerLinQ partnership deal. In a recent interview, Lefkofsky states that “We’re complementary.” “We’re focused on the molecular side, building data sets. Their focus has been in analyzing data sets. We’ve built a platform that allows us to ingest large amounts of molecular data and to structure and analyze clinical data. We focus on both pieces.”
A database on cancer treatment is also being compiled by a team at the University of Chicago, and its records of more than 10,000 patients are open to researchers.
About Eric Lefkofsky
Lefkofsky’s other ventures include Groupon, a global e-commerce marketplace, Uptake Technologies, a leading predictive analytics platform for the world’s largest industries, Mediaocean, a provider of integrated media procurement technology, Echo Global Logistics, a technology-enabled transportation and logistics outsourcing firm, and InnerWorkings, a global provider of managed print and promotional solutions.
Lefkofsky is also a philanthropist, having established the Lefkofsky Family Foundation together with his wife. The Foundation’s primary aim is to advance high-impact initiatives in education, fundamental human rights, medicine, art and culture that enhance lives in the communities that are served. Both are also members of The Giving Pledge, having committed to contribute nearly half their wealth to philanthropic causes. Lefkofsky is also on the board of trustees of the Lurie’s Children’s Hospital of Chicago, The Art Institute of Chicago, The Museum of Science and Industry and World Business Chicago. Lefkofsky is also the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Steppenwolf Theatre Company that is based in Chicago. For more information, visit lefkofsky.com, LinkedIn: ericlefkofsky, Twitter: @lefkofsky or Facebook: @eplefkofsky. For more information, visit tempus.com, “Tempus Labs” on Facebook and @TempusLabs on Twitter.