Precision Medicine and Philanthropy: Meet Eric Lefkofsky

Eric Lefkofsky

Cancer continues to be a struggle that many face. In the US, almost 40 percent of adults will face cancer diagnosis at one point in their lifetime. Statistics from the National Cancer Institute indicate that in 2014, at least 14.5 million US citizens were living with cancer, and by the year 2024, the is figure expected to surpass 19 million. Data-enabled precision medicine championed by firms like Tempus is being used to address this menace. Eric Lefkofsky, the co-founder of Tempus is at the forefront of this cause.

Despite advancements in modern medical technology like electronic health records, there exists gaps in digital technology and data collection. Eric Lefkofsky came to terms with these shortcomings when a loved one was diagnosed with cancer. He realized that harnessing the data from cancer patients was a serious challenge.

Tempus came into play to fill this gap. The technology company co-founded by Eric developed software that analyzes the clinical and molecular data of a patient. One of the challenges was accessing usable clinical medical data. The company developed a software that could transform physician notes into structured data that professionals could use for the treatment and care of cancer patients.

Through human genome sequencing, a person’s molecular data can be identified. When the process was first introduced in 2003, the cost was above $100 million, but advancement in technology has seen the cost drop faster than Moore’s law. Tempus is committed to lowering the price even further.

The vital information stored by the genes in the human body can help researchers develop ways to combat diseases like cancer. Tempus hopes to help researchers make more headway in cancer research by collecting and matching cancer patients’ molecular data with their clinical information.

Data-enabled precision medicine pioneers like Eric Lefkofsky hope that effective treatments for cancer patients can be achieved using data and technology.

Eric Lefkofsky attended the University of Michigan where in 1991, he graduated with honors. He attended the Michigan Law School two years later, graduating with a Juris Doctor degree. His legal background, however, did not prevent him from pursuing other interests outside of law.

Chicago is where Tempus is headquartered, and it is where most of Eric Lefkofsky’s adult years have been spent. Eric is the chairman of the Board of Trustees of Steppenwolf Theatre Company and also serves on the boards of directors of the Art Institute of Chicago and Lurie’s Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

Leading Entrepreneur

Eric Lefkofsky is known for his entrepreneurial acumen.
While at the University of Michigan, Lefkofsky began his business journey. Together with his friend, they would sell carpet remnants to students from the back of a van. After enjoying success in the first year, the duo expanded to five other universities. The business grew well with gross sales reaching $300,000 a year. The experience with his first startup would become a stepping stone for future ventures.

Eric went ahead to co-found other companies like InnerWorkings, and Echo Global Logistics. His entrepreneurial instinct grew with each venture that he started. Eric Lefkofsky says that he realized that he loves being an entrepreneur and identifying ways to get a business off the ground.

Eric’s is widely known and identified with Groupon, a company that he co-founded. Groupon is an e-commerce site that gives subscribers daily coupons for a variety of services. Groupon initially started as The Point, a company that used the internet to leverage on collective action in solving social problems. Eric Lefkofsky became the initial investor in The Point, pumping seed capital of $1 million. In November 2008, the company became Groupon.

Groupon grew exponentially, and by October the next year, Accel Partners and New Enterprise Associates pumped $30 million funding to the company.
Eric Lefkofsky is also the co-founder of Lightbank, a company that helps develop new companies, especially in Chicago area.

In 2006, Eric and his wife formed the Lefkofsky Family Foundation, a charitable trust. The foundation seeks to advance programs and research that improves the quality of life of people in different communities.


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