Eric Lefkofsky’s Tempus is Transforming Cancer Care Using Big Data

Eric Lefkofsky

Kathy Giusti, the founder of the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF), was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 1996. At the time, she was told she had three years to live. In the U.S., her cancer is diagnosed 30,000 times a year and kills 12,000 Americans annually.

The MMRF founder is an example of how molecular data can help predict treatment of an otherwise unpredictable disease. Giusti had found out that her cancer has a favorable gene expression profile that makes it more likely to respond favorably to Velcade, which it did. She beat her cancer.

In addition to MMRF focusing its efforts to understand myeloma via DNA sequencing, several other companies have begun using data to predict cancer patients’ responses to therapies.

Eric Lefkofsky’s Tempus is one such operation that works on building the world’s largest database of cancer data that it makes available to physicians so they can make better decisions regarding cancer treatments. Lefkofsky, the firm’s founder and CEO, founded Tempus in 2015 out of his realization that datasets in healthcare, and in oncology in particular, are small, disorganized and often. In order to address the issues hindering progress in the industry, Tempus developed a series of data pipelines that collect, cleanse and analyze data, at scale. Several clinical and research applications depend on these data pipelines to drive clinical decision support and cutting-edge academic research.

Tempus has been voted one of Chicago’s top ten health-tech startups. The company is taking advantage of the recent human genome sequencing, science and technology advances in order to facilitate cancer treatment as well as offer personalized therapy options via data at scale.

Furthermore, with the latest fundraising round having increased its value to an approximate $1.1 billion, the company has obtained “unicorn” status.

According to Lefkofsky, the company collaborates with both individuals and organizations across the health care system. This includes doctors as well as drug companies, who are searching for a way to use big data to treat patients more effectively. Tempus has partnered with about 50 research hospitals and nearly all of the National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers.

“I think the traction we have had with everybody in the industry has been kind of amazing,” Lefkofsky said. “We’re in the midst of one of the most significant paradigm shifts of our time.”

Tempus is one of several ventures Lefkofsky has founded. The Chicago-based entrepreneur is also co-founder of Groupon, a global e-commerce marketplace platform, Echo Global Logistics, a technology-enabled transportation and logistics outsourcing firm, InnerWorkings, a global provider of managed print and promotional solutions, Lightbank, a venture fund focusing on disruptive technologies, Uptake Technologies, an analytics platform and Mediaocean, a media procurement technologies provider.

Author of Accelerated Disruption: Understanding the True Speed of Innovation, Lefkofsky has held teaching positions at the Kellstadt Graduate School of Business at DePaul University as well as at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. He is currently an adjunct professor at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business.

Lefkofsky is also a philanthropist. Together with his wife, he founded the Lefkofsky Family Foundation in 2006. Its primary aim is the advancement of high-impact initiatives in education, fundamental human rights, medicine, art and culture that enhance lives in the communities that are served. The two are also members of The Giving Pledge. Lefkofsky is 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. He is also the Chairman of the Chicago-based Board of Trustees of the Steppenwolf Theatre Company.

Two years following her diagnosis, Giusti founded MMRF that has played a crucial role in the way myeloma is researched, diagnosed as well as treated. She helped speed up clinical trials and as such played an important part in accelerating ten myeloma drugs to the market, including Takeda’s Velcade and Johnson & Johnson’s Darzalex. The philanthropic organization pioneered investing in companies as means to usher biotechs to focus on myeloma. MMRF also sponsors stated of the art research and urges scientists to be transparent with the data they generate.

For more information on Tempus, please visit, Facebook: @TempusLabs and Twitter: @TempusLabs. For more information on Eric Lefkofsky, please visit, LinkedIn: ericlefkofsky, Twitter: @lefkofsky or Facebook: @eplefkofsky.


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