The opportunity to advance care for cancer patients drew Lauren Silvis to the technology company Tempus, Inc. Its founder and CEO Eric Lefkofsky started the Chicago-based business after his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. After seeing how challenging it was to integrate big data solutions into cancer care, Lefkofsky built Tempus to combine structured clinical and deep molecular data to find more personalized treatment options.
“Tempus is mission-driven, which makes it a very inspiring place to show up to work every day,” says Silvis, who began overseeing regulatory, public policy and government affairs last year and is opening a Washington, D.C. office. The startup, which opened its doors in 2015, has built a massive library of clinical and molecular data that it makes accessible to physicians, researchers, patients and drug developers. “We move quickly because patients need the best care the minute they have a diagnosis.” Working alongside scientists, clinicians, and engineers, Silvis says she’s witnessing the reality of how precision medicine can make a difference.
Silvis joined the company after most recently serving as chief of staff to former Commissioner Scott Gottlieb at the Food and Drug Administration. During the COVID-19 outbreak, she has co-authored several papers and op-eds in the Wall Street Journal with Gottlieb, focusing on diagnostics, targeted surveillance, and employer-based testing to help fight the current epidemic.
While Tempus’ origins lie in oncology, Silvis says the company is moving into other disease areas, including cardiology, depression and infectious disease. Tempus recently launched COVID-19 diagnostic testing and is collecting and curating data on COVID-19 to help researchers understand the disease and identify beneficial treatments. She’s dedicated to helping expand and says, “We can take what we’ve learned in oncology and what’s been done well and see what we can do to advance care for patients with other diseases.”
Her current role encompasses building regulatory, public policy and government affairs functions for such wide-ranging areas as digital health, privacy, clinical testing, artificial intelligence and clinical decision support. Silvis describes it as her “sweet spot” considering that she’s been working at the intersection of all those things for much of her career. Before working with Commissioner Gottlieb at the FDA, she was that agency’s deputy center director for policy at the Center for Devices and Radiological Health. She had the good fortune of working at FDA with current Sidley partner Rebecca Wood, who was then chief counsel at the FDA.
Before that, Silvis was at Sidley, which she joined in 2006 as an associate and left in 2015 as a partner. She recalls that at the time she began her practice at the firm, partner Coleen Klasmeier had just left the FDA to work in Sidley’s regulatory practice. Partner Scott Bass was expanding the firm’s global presence. “It seemed like a great opportunity to come in as a midlevel associate and help build the FDA regulatory practice.” She credits Klasmeier with mentoring her and supporting her on the path to partnership in the FDA practice.
Silvis believes Sidley prepared her extremely well for the roles she’s held since leaving the firm. “I loved the deal work. It really gave me a chance to understand the challenges of smaller companies and innovators and how they were navigating the regulatory pathways,” said Silvis. She added, “I learned a lot about what it takes to have an idea you think is going to change healthcare, and to figure out how to handle the funding, the resources and the regulatory requirements to make it a reality so patients can have access to it.”
Outside of work, Silvis says she’s perpetually in motion, attending various extracurricular activities with her son, daughter and husband. “We’re constantly running around to sports, dance and all their activities.” She’s proud that they are all Washington Nationals baseball fans. “We were thrilled to see the Nats win the World Series last year and we’re very much looking forward to seeing more championships in DC.”
Published June 2020
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