Eric Lefkofsky's Mission to Improve Cancer Treatments Across the Globe

Cancer can be an extremely difficult disease to treat, but there is a way to ensure that physicians have more success in creating positive outcomes for people diagnosed with this disease. Eric Lefkofsky is the co-founder of a company called “Tempus,” and it is playing a significant role in how cancer patients will be treated now and in the future.


The Journey toward a Better Way


Eric discovered that there is a problem within medicine today, and that too often physicians do not have access to critical data that can help them make more informed decisions on behalf of their patients. While more and more patients are getting sequenced, which means doctors have access to molecular data, they weren’t able to really look at their patient in the context of patients who came before.


What Eric has discovered is that physicians and researchers also need clinical data. Specifically, Eric states that the medical community needs to have therapeutic and outcome response data.


Currently, medical personnel can collect data on a patient’s DNA and RNA profiles, but too often they do not have the equally important information on what treatments the patients are currently being given. They also do not know how these patients are responding to their treatments, and this is information that Eric believes should be just as accessible as the molecular data.


For example, researchers will know that patients are receiving a medication called “Herceptin.” They will also know that only 40 percent of the group is improving on this medication. There is no data anywhere that tells them what is different about the 60 percent of the population that is not being helped. These patients may be taking other drugs, or they may have other diseases that are preventing the treatment from working, and this is the type of data that is not readily available.


The Solution to the Problem: Tempus


Eric is CEO and a co-founder of Tempus, and it is a company that he started to rectify the problem that was being described above. His plan is to create a databases that will hold the necessary information that is so important to the treatment of cancer. Eric’s intent is to cultivate a place where therapeutic data can be stored along with genomic information. With the ability to do this, physicians will be able to fine-tune their patients’ treatments so that they receive the therapy that will have the best results in their individual cases.


As it is now, if someone were to enter into a clinic and ask how patients who took Herceptin fared over a two-year period, the researchers would ask him to come back in 90 days after they had a chance to ask for a grant. With the databases, researchers would be able to look that information up as they spoke.


Eric’s Motivation


Eric has a very personal reason for why he wanted to make cancer easier for medical personnel to treat. A family member received a breast cancer diagnosis, and he spent a lot of time in waiting rooms with her. In that time, he learned that oncologists really weren’t receiving adequate information on their patients. He realized that it was entirely too common for a physician to be ignorant on how a medication was treating a particular cohort of patients.



Failure Leads to Success


While still in college at the University of Michigan, Eric began selling carpet in his first year there. After graduating from the University of Michigan Law School, he and a partner founded Groupon.


In 2006, Eric and his wife started the Lefkofsky Family Foundation, a charitable trust that supports many worthy causes across the globe.


In addition to his charitable endeavors, Eric is also a Trustee of the Art Institute of Chicago, World Business Chicago, Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and the Museum of Science and Industry. He is also associated with Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company where he is the Chairman of the Board of Trustees.


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