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Mount Sinai Spins Out Sema4 to Focus on Genetic Data

June 2, 2017
by David Raths
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New 300-employee company seeks to combine genomic and clinical data to empower more informed health decisions

The Mount Sinai Health System in New York has spun out several genetic testing and data sciences components from its Department of Genetics and Genomic Sciences and the Icahn Institute for Genomics and Multiscale Biology into a for-profit company called Sema4.

Sema4 (pronounced “semaphore”) aims to combine comprehensive screening and diagnostic testing, predictive modeling, cutting-edge technologies, and open-access data. The company will have a staff of more than 300, including scientists, doctors, engineers, clinicians, genetic counselors, and business leaders.

Leading the company is Eric Schadt, Ph.D., founding director of the Icahn Institute and dean for Precision Medicine and the Jean C. and James W.  Crystal Professor of Genomics at the Icahn School of Medicine.

“We will incorporate patient information—including genetic, environmental, clinical, pharmaceutical, and device data—to model the complexity of disease and wellness and to generate more personalized, precise, and real-time insights for our patients,” Schadt said in a press statement. “Ultimately, Sema4 will help transform how diseases are predicted, diagnosed, treated, and prevented.”

The company said spinning out of Mount Sinai will allow it to raise the capital it needs to scale its genetic testing business and data sciences capabilities in order to collect and analyze significantly more data, and to build and implement platforms that enable patients and providers to make use of its analyses and diagnostic interpretations for clinical decision-making.  As it expands, Sema4 said it would create products that will transform molecular diagnostics through information-rich offerings and promote longer-term relationship with and knowledge about one’s health.

Sema4 also wants to build new digital platforms to engage patients and empower them to take control of their longitudinal health data, while facilitating analysis of the data to improve well-being. Sema4 is committed to being the first to create such platforms and expand the availability of digital health, enabling aggregation across all institutions and putting the patient first in that journey so that that they can benefit the most from that data.

Mount Sinai said it has made a substantial investment in Sema4 and in the future of genetic research, diagnostics, and next-generation treatments. “By creating Sema4, we can bring this tremendous expertise to a national audience and use what we learn from the broader population to help us deliver better care to our Mount Sinai patients, shaping health care for decades to come,” said Kenneth L. Davis, M.D., President and CEO of the Mount Sinai Health System, in a prepared statement.

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