The world of cancer medicine has progressed a lot in the last several decades thanks to the Human Genome Project. Because of that, sequencing cancer DNA has become commoditized, Lefkovsky told an interviewer with Fortune Health recently.Lefkofsky is the co-founder and CEO of Tempus. Tempus intends to establish databases to help oncologists better treat cancer. Lefkofsky came up with the idea for Tempus when his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. He observed that most truck drivers received more information on doing their job than did oncologists. As a true entrepreneur spotting a problem, he took it as an opportunity.
During the interview he says oncologists do have access to lots of molecular data, but that is only half the story. Oncologists also need clinical data about the patient. Lefkofsky surmises that clinical data may hold the key to understanding why certain cancer treatments work for some patients but not for others. That needs to be studied, but currently there is no way to do that.Molecular data without the clinical data is like a puzzle with half the pieces there. He says that all the information involved should be flowing freely between researchers and clinicians, and insurance and biotech companies.
The system is broken because cancer treatment centers and doctors don’t have immediate access to all kinds of information, so they can look for correlations that might point to causations. They should be able to know all the basic information about who their patients are, what other medicines they’re taking, other illnesses, their ages, other gene mutations and RNA expression.Lefkofsky is a busy technology entrepreneur. Besides Tempus, he is most known for founding Groupon, a global e-commerce platform. However, he has a long track record. He also co-founded Lightbank, which is a fund for venture capitalists interested in disruptive technology companies to invest in. He’s also the co-founder of Uptake Technologies, platform for predictive business analytics, and many more.Lefkofsky is also busy as a philanthropist. In 2006 he and his wife Liz set up the Lefkofsky Family Foundation to make a high impact on the communities it serves. He’s also a trustee for the Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and the Museum of Science and Industry in that city.