Eric Lefkofsky and the Technology to Fight Cancer

Nothing could prepare Eric Lefkofsky for his wife Liz’s breast cancer diagnosis.Stunned with the news, theLefkofskys needed to know more–they scoured every resource they could, but found no certainties. Tempus emerged from the ashes of this uncertainty.Tempus is a technology company, co-founded by Eric Lefkofsky, that has built a unique operating system–one that collects data about cancer from various medical sources, and puts the data back together in a way that helps doctors better understand it. By combining information from past cancer patients–results, genetic make-ups, and the drugs taken–doctors can make more informed decisions about future ones.

Philanthropy is an important part of the Lefkofskys’ legacy. Together, Lefkofsky and his wife chair the Lefkofsky Family Foundation, which supports causes such as arts and culture, education, human rights and medical research, mostly in their local Chicago.Lefkofsky, who started out selling carpets at the University of Michigan, had his first huge business success with the promotional internet company Starbelly, co-founded with Bradley Keywell. After selling Starbelly for $240, he eventually went on to create Groupon. Instead of resting on the prestige of Groupon, once Liz was diagnosed Eric Lefkofsky threw himself into research about health care.

Kevin White, president of Tempus and a geneticist, approaches the business from the other side of Lefkofsky, but insists that they have the same goal: to improve cancer treatments by using the technology available.Health centers and hospitals to collaborate with Tempus to date include the University of Pennsylvania’s Ambramson Cancer Center, Northwestern University’s Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Rush University Medical Center.Though hopeful, Lefkofsky understands the process will take a long time. Finally, he has found a business that combines the major parts of his life–family, business, and philanthropy–which makes Tempus incredibly personal to him. Lefkofsky hopes that his informative technology will help cut the mortality rate for those with cancer.