One of the goals of the technology company Tempus is to improve treatment outcomes for cancer patients by using advanced artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies to analyze massive amounts of clinical data. Since its inception, Tempus has been focused on developing and optimizing its systems for performing these analyses. In order to put this technology to work, Tempus relies not only upon gathering its own data, but on forming relationships with other organizations that collect and maintain data relating to cancer treatment. For this reason, Tempus and technology company Precision Health AI have teamed up with CancerLinQ LLC, a not-for-profit subsidiary of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, to expand their access to relevant data for analysis.
Over the course of a decade, CancerLinQ has successfully collected a wide array of clinical data from oncology practices nationwide. However, the nature of this unstructured database presents CancerLinQ with serious challenges, as it includes inconsistent data, making it difficult to analyze.
That’s where Tempus and Precision Health AI come in. As part of a licensing deal, the two companies will pay for the rights to analyze the CancerLinQ database, leveraging advanced technologies in search of valuable insights into the nature of the disease that could lead to the development of new treatments and improve patient outcomes. The two companies will organize the database, helping oncologists to determine effective treatments and enhancing clinical trials. As the CancerLinQ database includes records on over 1 million patients, these analyses have the potential to substantially augment the amount and quality of data oncologists have access to while considering treatment options for individual patients with specialized needs.
CancerLinQ spends tens of millions of dollars each year to maintain and expand its database, making financial sustainability a challenge. The agreement with Tempus and Precision Health AI, however, will help to offset some of this cost, helping the organization to continue to function into the future.
While CancerLinQ’s database could provide Tempus with some immediate commercial viability, Eric Lefkofsky, co-founder, and CEO of Tempus, has much larger ambitions. According to Lefkofsky, “this is more about how do you get that data structured at a large enough scale that you can get the various constituents inside the healthcare industry interested in helping you build something that’s sustainable.” Although Lefkofsky considers his company as still in its “early days,” he envisions a future of cancer treatment where data can flow freely, giving a greater number of patients access to high-quality treatment.
While Tempus and Precision Health AI share the goal of leveraging big data in service of enhancing cancer treatment, Lefkofsky sees the two companies as complementing one another rather than trying to do the same thing. While Precision Health AI is interested in applying machine learning to datasets to search for meaningful patterns, Tempus focuses on combining clinical data, like the data collected by CancerLinQ, with molecular data, either sequenced in its lab or acquired through partnerships with other organizations. Lefkofsky believes that the future of precision cancer treatment lies in understanding the connections between these disparate datasets. Lefkofsky hopes that real-time decision support, in which oncologists would be able to leverage information generated by companies like Tempus to aid in difficult treatment decisions, will become a reality in just a few years.
Lefkofsky is driven by a personal philosophy of results-oriented business practices, which has informed his understanding of Tempus’ mission of using emerging technologies to determine how best to improve cancer treatment and diminish the overall negative impact of the disease. In addition to Tempus, Eric Lefkofsky has found success in other entrepreneurial endeavors. In the past, he has founded or co-founded a number of successful technology companies, including Groupon, Uptake Technologies, Mediaocean, Echo Global Logistics, and InnerWorkings.
Lefkofsky has also dedicated himself to philanthropic efforts. In 2006, he and his wife created the Lefkofsky Family Foundation, which is a charitable organization that aims to enhance the quality of human life by the most effective means possible, including by increasing access to education and healthcare worldwide. Lefkofsky also serves as a Trustee of Lurie Children’s Hospital, The Art Institute of Chicago, The Museum of Science and Industry, and World Business Chicago. He received his Juris Doctor at the University of Michigan Law School, and is as an adjunct professor at the University of Chicago.