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Ann Nolan

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Eric Lefkowksy’s Tempus Startup Uses AI to fight Cancer

Eric Lefkofsky’s medical startup, Tempus, is using AI to revolutionize healthcare. He has already launched several companies worth more than $250 million each, including Groupon.

The concept for Tempus is that by collecting a large amount of medical data Tempus will eventually be able to customize cancer and other medical care. Doctors will be able to send samples of cancerous tissues to Tempus and they will analyze the tissue in the lab with DNA sequencing to determine the mutation. This knowledge can help a doctor proscribe care that is specific to the patient’s exact diagnosis.

Tempus has raised $520 million dollars for research, and it is clear that investors anticipate the field of precision medicine to grow. Despite this, Tempus has only published 20 peer-reviewed research articles over the four years since it was founded (a low number compared to it’s competitor).

DNA sequencing is expensive, Tempus charges $1000-$5000 for the service and they are providing the service at a loss, however the company licenses their data to researchers, drug companies, and insurers which makes up the majority of the company’s revenues.

Lefkowsky worked on many entrepreneurial projects before fouling Tempus, and he came up with the idea for the start up after his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014. He noticed that there was very little data provided in her care, and saw a business opportunity.

Initially doctors were hesitant to send their data to Tempus, but in 2017 they were able to come to an agreement with the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Despite this, Tempus has fierce competition for data with other companies such as Roche (a drug giant) and Concerto HealthAI, who have access to much of the same data as Tempus.

Lefokwsky feels his “entire career led up to this point” and hopes that Tempus will be the project he is remembered for.

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