There is a revolution going on in medicine. In 15 years, it could affect almost everyone in the United States. The high-tech world of gene sequencing is meeting the everyday world of medical care. The result is care that is uniquely tailored to every person’s individual needs.
Eric Lefkofsky is leading the revolution. His company Tempus uses sophisticated genome sequencing and data mining to produce actionable results. The work Tempus does is already being used in 250 hospitals and touches the lives of one-quarter of the cancer patients in the United States today.
What Tempus does is combine clinical data with genetic data. The clinical data shows what kinds of medicine patients are taking and the results of the medication for each individual patient. There are many differences among individuals, with some responding better to certain medications and others having different reactions.
By combining the clinical data with the genetic data, Tempus can discern patterns. By doing a deep dive into the data, the company can find out why particular people respond the way they do to specific medications.
This information is very useful for physicians who treat cancer. It enables them to predict which medications will work best for which of their patients. This saves precious time that might otherwise be wasted with trial-and-error attempts to find the right medicine. With cancer, there is no time to waste. Getting it right the first time can extend or save lives.
Eric Lefkofsky recently sat down for an interview with Max Chafkin of Businessweek that was broadcast on Bloomberg TV. Before founding Tempus, Mr. Lefkovsky had already co-founded several companies, including the wildly successful Groupon. As he explained during the interview, throughout his career, he had worked to bring technology to industries that were not using all the technological tools that were available to them.
When he founded Tempus, that was the first time he started working in the health care space. He was motivated to do so when someone in his life had cancer, and he observed that health care practitioners were not availing themselves of the valuable tools that data mining and analysis could provide.
The results have been extraordinary. In a very short period of time, the cancer-treating medical community has embraced the advantages that using Tempus gives them in caring for their patients. The company continues to grow. After starting with a focus on cancer patients, Tempus now provides information for people with diabetes and people suffering from depression. In the future, Mr. Lefkofsky plans to have Tempus tackle even more diseases.
While Tempus is a leader in this space, the company is no longer alone. Some of the world’s biggest tech companies, including Amazon, Microsoft, and Google, have plans to join Tempus in using cutting-edge technology to provide medical guidance.
Mr. Lefkofsky welcomes all the companies working in this area. He is not afraid of competition because he believes the health care space is large enough to accommodate everyone. He is glad that so many companies are working on solutions to the problem of treating diseases. In the near future, almost everybody in the U.S. will benefit from the powerful tools that data mining provides to the medical profession.
In addition to founding Tempus and co-founding Groupon, Eric Lefkovsky also co-founded Inner Workings, Mediaocean, Echo Logistics, Lightbank, and Uptake. He has a law degree from the University of Michigan and is an adjunct professor at the University of Chicago. He is deeply involved in supporting the community and is a trustee at a wide range of institutions in Chicago, including a hospital, art institute, and theater.