Tempus Has the Answer for Structuring Clinical Cancer Data

Eric Lefkofsky

Tempus is a cancer health tech that is aiming to personalize cancer care by gathering and analyzing vast amounts of molecular and clinical data. Its mission – to redefine how genomic data is used in a clinical setting. With Eric Lefkofsky as the Co-Founder and CEO, the company is one of Chicago’s top funded firms and among the city’s top ten technology start-ups of the year. Tempus has recently announced that it is launching Tempus O, a platform that collects, structures and analyzes clinical data from electronic medical records, research databases, images and physician notes with the aim to generate optimized and personalized therapeutic insights.


According to a recent post on MedCityNews, the goal of Tempus is to enable physicians to make better cancer care and treatment decisions that will be most effective for individual patients. As such, it has set out to build the world’s largest database of both clinical and molecular patient data that will be accessible to health care personnel. The biggest hurdle to personalized care and individualized medicine is that oncology and healthcare data overall are stored in small and disorganized datasets. Consequently, critical data exists in the form of unstructured free-text documents and images. Furthermore, currently the largest and publicly available collection of clinical and molecular data encompasses a mere 11,000 patients, which is insufficient considering how many individuals were expected to receive a cancer diagnosis in the US in 2017. If the dataset is then itemized by cancer subtype, key mutations or treatment and outcome data, the resulting categories are much too small to be used for any useful evidence or clinical decisions. In order to advance precision medicine based on what is available, there has to be a platform that would collect, organize, analyze and apply the data at scale.


The first step in this process is the acquisition of molecular data at scale. Tempus houses a CAP/CLIA accredited robotic next-generation laboratory facility in which it aims to address the small and disorganized datasets by collecting, cleaning and analyzing cancer data. Yet in order to fully understand a patient’s specific cancer, the genomic profile must be combined with clinical data, which is where the problem lies. Patients’ clinical profiles are often messy, unstructured, devoid of outcomes and stored in several different electronic medical record systems.

Tempus’ data pipelines are behind the proprietary software applications that enable clinical decision support as well as cutting edge academic research. Tempus O relies on optical character recognition and natural language processing that gathers electronic healthcare records from several medical institutions and transforms them into structured data. These findings are then validated with a team of qualified healthcare personnel who check and edit the data before deploying its insights to benefit both providers as well as patients. When used along with the company’s sequencing offerings, doctors to have access to each of the patients’ unique cancer genetics profiles as well as clinical records based on which future treatment paradigms can be designed.

According to Lefkofsky, “Data in isolation cannot be used to help physicians learn from patients who came before.” “In order to build a true learning system, we need to know who these patients are, what drugs they have taken, how they’ve responded to those drugs, and what genomic factors seem to be driving their disease —only then can we improve the treatment and outcome for every patient that follows.”


He further adds that, “At Tempus, our goal is to build the world’s largest database of clinical and molecular data and more effectively put that data to work.”


Tempus O can conveniently be used as both a standalone product or in combination with the company’s sequencing and analytic platforms. All of this is done at scale, in order to power and yield real insights.


In a recent interview, Lefkofsky commented on Tempus’ aims and outlooks. “We believe this represents the future of cancer care. To get there, however, we must apply many of the substantial advances made in computing over the past twenty years, from computer vision for analyzing tumor biopsy images, to natural language processing for parsing clinical records, to machine learning for integrating DNA and RNA information.”


About Lefkofsky

Lefkofsky is originally from Southfield, Michigan. He graduated from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor with high honors after which he attended the University of Michigan Law School where he earned his Juris Doctor degree.


In addition to Tempus, Lefkofsky’s other entrepreneurial ventures include Lightbank, a venture fund that focuses its investments on disruptive technologies, Groupon, a global e-commerce marketplace, Uptake Technologies, an analytics platform for the world’s largest industries, Mediaocean, an integrated media procurement technologies provider, Echo Global Logistics, a technology-enabled transportation and logistics outsourcing firm and InnerWorkings, whose focus is on providing managed print and promotional solutions globally.


Lefkofsky held previous 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. He is also author of Accelerated Disruption: Understanding the True Speed of Innovation. For more information on Eric Lefkofsky, visit lefkofsky.com.


About Tempus

Tempus was founded in 2015, and it continues to expand its network of partners and is currently working with leading academic medical centers, NCI designated cancer centers, hospital networks and community oncologists across the United States. The technology company is building the world’s largest library of molecular and clinical data and an operating system to make that data accessible and useful. The aim is to enable physicians to deliver personalized cancer care for patients through its interactive analytical and machine learning platform. Tempus provides genomic sequencing services and analyzes molecular and therapeutic data to empower physicians to make real-time, data-driven decisions. The goal is for each patient to benefit from the treatment of others who came before by providing physicians with tools that learn as the company gathers more data. For more information, visit tempus.com, and visit us on Facebook (Tempus Labs), Twitter (@TempusLabs) and Lefkofskyfoundation.com.


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