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Mount Sinai Health System spins off Sema4

Monday, June 5, 2017

The Mount Sinai Health System 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, Sema4.

Sema4 will be led by Eric Schadt, Ph.D., a pioneer in big data and systems biology and founding Director of the Icahn Institute. Dr. Schadt and his team at Sema4 will build on the success of the Mount Sinai Genetic Testing Laboratory and will continue to collaborate closely with the Mount Sinai Health System.

Sema4 (pronounced \ˈse-mə-ˌfȯr\ “semaphore”) aims to revolutionize clinical diagnostics by combining comprehensive screening and diagnostic testing, predictive modeling, cutting-edge technologies and open-access data.

“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. Ultimately, Sema4 will help transform how diseases are predicted, diagnosed, treated and prevented,” said Dr. Schadt, CEO of Sema4 as well as Dean for Precision Medicine and the Jean C. and James W. Crystal Professor of Genomics at the Icahn School of Medicine.

Sema4 combines more than 160 years of experience within Mount Sinai, including clinical expertise, academic research and information science. Sema4 will continue to offer high-quality genetic testing developed through years of research and patient interaction at Mount Sinai Health System. This includes its market-leading offering, Sema4 Expanded Carrier Screen (formerly NextStep), which tests for 281 genetic diseases by using six different testing technologies to provide a more meaningful result for patients. The Sema4 diagnostics menu will be quickly expanded to include an enhanced non-invasive prenatal test, newborn screening, and oncology testing.

Dennis S. Charney, M.D., Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Dean, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, commented: “The launch of Sema4 is a natural extension of Mount Sinai’s vision to unlock and apply discoveries, clinical testing, and data-powered approaches that will drive greater health. We look forward to collaborating closely with the Sema4 team and to rapidly deploying the tools they develop throughout the Mount Sinai Health System.”

Spinning out of Mount Sinai will allow Sema4 to raise the capital it needs to dramatically 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 fully make use of its analyses and diagnostic interpretations for clinical decision-making. As it expands, Sema4 will actively engage patients and physicians across the country with products that will transform molecular diagnostics through information-rich offerings and promote longer-term relationship with and knowledge about one’s health.

Sema4 will also 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. “During our time at Mount Sinai, the team now launching Sema4 has been committed to enabling patients to take charge of their data and be active participants in choosing a healthier life. We have spent years proving the value of multiscale biology and are eager to scale this at the national level,” said Dr. Schadt. “We will break down silos by openly sharing our information platform, network models, and data with the biomedical community, academic medical centers, and nonprofit researchers around the world. Providing broad access to data, rather than hoarding it or restricting its use, is a proven path to accelerating new discoveries and drastically improving patient care. Our efforts are designed to empower the patient to take their own data and share it with whomever they want during their lifetime.”

Mount Sinai 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.

Sema4 will have a staff of more than 300, including scientists, doctors, engineers, clinicians, genetic counselors, and business leaders. Spearheading our diagnostic operations are Lisa Edelmann, Ph.D., Sema4’s chief diagnostics officer and long-time executive director of the Mount Sinai Genetic Testing Laboratory in New York City, and Todd Arnold, Ph.D., Managing director of the Branford, Connecticut, laboratory.

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