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Eric Lefkofksy anticipates human genome sequencing will drive medical developments

Eric Lefkofsky is indisputably one of the most talented entrepreneurs in America. Having founded Groupon, a company that allows individuals to enjoy volume discounts on products and services they need, he has gone on to have a superlative career, starting half a dozen highly successful companies. Today, Lefkofsky has taken on a new challenge, radically overhauling the way in which cancer is treated.

The most important task of artificial intelligence

Lefkofsky’s wife was diagnosed with advanced stage breast cancer in 2013. Throughout the rest of that year, he spent a great deal of time taking her to oncology appointments. Throughout this period, Lefkofksy was struck by how seemingly primitive the means oncologists used to gather and analyse information was. He decided that oncology needed a boost in the way it collates and presents data to its practitioners.

In 2016, Eric Lefkofsky founded Tempus, a company dedicated to collected vast amounts of data and presenting it in a user-friendly, digestible way to oncologists. Today, Lefkofsky sees an even bigger prize. The human genome itself is a trove of potentially ground-breaking information so vast that there currently does not exist a system of mining it. What Tempus seeks to do is to create a system that can use the entire human genome as a blueprint to design the most effective possible cancer treatments. Lefkofksy envisions this as eventually giving oncologists such as nuanced ability to create treatment regimens that every single cancer patient will have their own treatments designed specifically for them, right down to the molecules used in the drugs.

And if this all sounds a bit like science fiction, Lefkofsky is quick to point out that the majority of technological capability to do these things is already here. It just requires a little more tweaking and a specialty application, which is what Tempus is creating, to get that information into the hands of oncologists.

Lefkofsky believes that these innovations will lead to dramatic improvements in survivability of many types of cancer over the next decade. He thinks it is possible that, like with AIDS, cancer may one day soon have treatments that are so good that they are tantamount to a cure.

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