How Eric Lefkofsky and Tempus are Overcoming Overtreatment of Cancer Via Precision Medicine

By , in Healthcare Technology on .

Medical care is plagued by overtreatment. This is especially evident in the large numbers of patients that had initially undergone early detection and whose screening results returned early-stage disease results. Patients that are in the early stages of diseases may encounter overtreatment as the cumulative morbidity as well as negative effects on quality of life as a result of cancer therapies are substantial. At the same time, the pros do not always outweigh the cons as each single modality can be very small and uncertain in an individual patient.



Precision medicine effectively minimizes or reduces overtreatment as it eliminates unnecessary treatments. In cancer, for example, precision medicine takes into account a combination of both patient factors (age, comorbidity, genetic predisposition) as well as the characteristics of the diagnosed tumor in order to come up with the most individualized treatment plan for the patient.


According to a recent publication in JAMA, there are 3 steps to harnessing precision medicine to address overtreatment. Those are (1) increasing evidence base for less vs more extensive treatment in key clinical subgroups; (2) designing more accurate algorithms to customize treatment to the relevant subgroup; and (3) making sure there is consensus among health care staff with regard to algorithm application to individual patients.


Eric Lefkofsky has been ushering precision medicine since 2015, when he founded Tempus Labs, a Chicago-based technology company that is using big data analytics that enables physicians to design more personalized therapy paradigms.


With Tempus, Lefkofsky offers an interactive and analytical machine learning platform that transforms unstructured data into a cleaned up and organized database replete with every patient’s information. The company produces molecular data by analyzing cancer patients’ DNA and RNA and as such uncovers more personalized treatment options and generates actionable insights for more impactful outcomes. The company’s goal is for each patient to benefit from the treatment of others who came before by providing physicians with tools that learn as Tempus gathers more data. In other words, it is as close as possible to making cancer a more effectively and efficiently treatable disease. This information is also beneficial for drug companies that pay for access to such data to improve drug development.


Tempus has also established collaborations with almost all of the nation’s cancer centers as well as several highly esteemed academic institutions and biotech/biopharma companies.


Encounters with breast cancer have yielded a key lesson, namely that physicians can benefit from several advances in precision medicine in order to lower the burden on patients due to unnecessary treatment. These advances include new technologies of tumor biology-based benefit stratification but also better evidence for the more accurate assessment of traditional clinicopathologic features of disease. This combination yields tools a clinician needs to recommend against a treatment that does more harm than good for an individual patient.


Lefkofsky comments that the central questions to be answered in precision medicine are the following, “Who are these patients, how are they being treated, how are they responding to treatment, and what’s their molecular profile and composition, and can we see something in that molecular profile that we think is indicative of how a patient might respond to a given therapy.”


About Eric Lefkofsky

Lefkofsky is one of Chicago’s most influential entrepreneurs. Since its founding in 2015, Tempus has claimed a spot among Chicago’s top ten health techs. In addition to Tempus, Lefkofsky is the co-founder of Lightbank, the co-founder and chairman of Groupon, the co-founder of Uptake Technologies, Mediaocean, Echo Global Logistics and InnerWorkings. Lefkofsky also has several philanthropic engagements. He is the Trustee of the Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago, the Art Institute of Chicago, The Museum of Science and Industry and World Business Chicago. He also serves as the Board of Trustees’ Chairman of Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company. Furthermore, he and his wife Liz co-chair the Lefkofsky Family Foundation that supports high-impact initiatives that improve lives in the communities served. Since 2013, he and his wife have also been members of the Giving Pledge. Lefkofsky currently holds an adjunct professorship at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. Lefkofsky obtained his Juris Doctor at the University of Michigan Law School. He is the author of Accelerated Disruption: Understanding the True Speed of Innovation.


For more information on Eric Lefkofsky, please visit, LinkedIn: ericlefkofsky, Twitter: @lefkofsky or Facebook: @eplefkofsky. For more information on Tempus, please visit, Facebook: @TempusLabs and Twitter: @TempusLabs.



More from LA News Watch

Ron Blair is a native New Yorker, but moved to Southern California in his early 20’s. Apart from producing his several podcasts, Ron spends his free time training for and competing in triathlons. As a journalist, Ron has published stories for HuffPost as well as BuzzFeed and Motherboard. As a contributor to LA News Watch, Ron mostly covers science and health stories, but no topic is off limits if he finds it interesting.

Recommended articles