Eric Lefkofsky – Cancer Data Pioneer

While most high-tech pioneers are using the information extracted from data mining to sell merchandise or make organizations operate more efficiently, Eric Lefkofsky is using data extraction and analysis to fine-tune subsequent cancer treatment in the search for a cure.According to Lefkofsky, “If you were to go into any of the nation’s cancer centers and ask which patients took Herceptin over two years and how they did, the center would need a grant and at least 90 days,” he noted. “That’s the sort of data that should flow freely between researchers, clinicians, and others.”

To that end, Lefkofsky has founded Tempus, a company dedicated to making an in-depth analysis of all available data from oncologists and best cancer treatment. Lefkofsky maintains that it is not enough to understand which treatments work for specific cancers, but that we must explore why they work as effectively as they do.“In order to treat cancer successfully, doctors need data—but they need data about several things,” said Lefkofsky, “this is what is missing from today’s medical research system.”

Lefkofsky told the attendees of the Fortune Brainstorm Health conference in San Diego, “There is no shortage of patient data out there, but there is a lack of sources that combine genomic information with therapeutic data.” He formed Tempus to gather and analyze both molecular data, such as DNA and RNA, and therapeutic outcome response data, such as detailed analysis of the rate of success of specific treatments amoung specific populations.Were different outcomes the result of specific factors? Race?Age?Gender?Ethnicity? Medical conditions?Environment?Lifestyle?Lefkofsky started Tempus when his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. At that time, he was shocked to learn that business employees get better data and feedback than oncologists. He maintains that oncologists do not have trustworthy information about the reliability of particular treatments in precise groups of individuals.