Next week international leaders from the genomics research community will gather in Marco Island, Florida for their biggest conference of the year: the 14th Annual Advances in Genome Biology and Technology (AGBT) . Foundation Medicine will be well represented with new data on the clinical validation and application of FoundationOne™ being presented by three members of our R&D team.
Additionally, we’re proud to announce that Phil Stephens, Ph.D., our vice president of cancer genomics, has been selected to give the closing address of the conference. In his remarks, Dr. Stephens will present details on the clinical experience derived from the genomic profiling of more than 1,000 tumor samples using FoundationOne.
The schedule for Foundation Medicine’s presentations is as follows:
Date & Time: Thursday, February 21, 2013 from 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. EST
Title: Validation of a Million Base-pair Cancer Profiling Assay for Clinical Use
Session: Poster Session
Location: Poster No. 159, Collier Hall
Presenter: Doron Lipson, Ph.D., Foundation Medicine
Date & Time: Friday, February 22, 2013 at 7:50 p.m. EST
Title: Genomic and cDNA Next Generation Sequencing Identifies a High Frequency of Kinase Gene Fusions in Spitz Tumors
Session: Concurrent Session: Cancer Genomics
Location: Islands Ballroom
Presenter: Geoff Otto, Ph.D., Foundation Medicine
Date & Time: Saturday, February 23, 2013 at 4:00 p.m. EST
Title: Comprehensive Genomic Profiling of 1,000+ Consecutive FFPE Tumors using a Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) Diagnostic Assay in a CLIA Certified Lab: Translating NGS into the Clinic
Session: Plenary Session: Genomic Studies III
Location: Islands Ballroom
Presenter: Phil Stephens, Ph.D., Foundation Medicine
Follow us on Twitter @FoundationATCG for more information during the conference.
Our CEO, Mike Pellini, M.D., represented Foundation Medicine at a recent Partnering for Cures panel event titled, "Molecular diagnostics: Turning on the lights". Partnering for Cures posted a great summary of the discussion about advancing personalized medicine through molecular diagnostics.
Check out this video from the panel, courtesy of Partnering for Cures:
Click here for our current calendar of upcoming events.
As part of CNBC's ongoing "Healthy Business" special report, Bill Maris from Google Ventures recently spoke with CNBC about opportunities in health care. He noted in his interview that:
There’s no Instagram for health care. There’s no 18-month-old company that a founder has started in their garage that turned into a billion dollar exit. The kind of media coverage on an exit like that generates the number of entrepreneurs that are attracted to areas like that. What it’s left, I think, is holes in the life sciences where to create a company can take years. I’ve long been concerned that there isn’t enough innovation, disruption and entrepreneurs attracted to this really important area of health care as there are to other areas of technology. (CNBC, “Health Care Needs More Entrepreneurs and Innovation: Google Ventures Head, 12 October 2012)
We couldn’t agree more, and are grateful to have Google Ventures as one of our investors. Speaking on his own and not as a representative of Foundation Medicine, Bill described the potential impact of FoundationOne:
“…we're not just treating a broad category like lung cancer, but we know exactly what kindof cancer you have. We can find the drugs that are best targeted to it, that the cancer will respond to most effectively. And that's really the future of cancer treatment.”
Check out this video -- and keep an eye out for a cameo from some of the amazing people working in our laboratory.
CNBC was also able to talk to Dr. Mike Pellini, our CEO. You can read his interview here.
A case study about our video project with Planet Nutshell, a group of seriously talented explainers and animators.
Words and phrases like “next-generation sequencing”, “DNA alterations” “genomics”, “tumor” and “molecular diagnostics” are alternately foreign and confusing for, well, almost everyone.
Why do these words matter? For patients with cancer, they're part of a new vocabulary about how to find the right drug for a person's unique kind of cancer. While current technology is making it possible to see the DNA changes that are driving a specific tumor, the big challenge now is understanding how that information translates into something doctors can use to help in treating patients. Foundation Medicine is addressing this challenge by offering doctors and their patients a fully informative genomic profile that may impact treatment decisions.
But how do we describe what we do in a way that non-scientists can quickly understand? Before launching our genomic profile, FoundationOne™, we were challenged to explain our complex technology in a simple fashion while maintaining a level of seriousness appropriate for a very serious disease.
We thought that maybe an animated video could help break down the technology and make it accessible to everyone...
Not being artists or producers, we looked for a partner. Most of the videos we saw at first were full of flying DNA strands and narrated by a Very Important Person. It was a breath of fresh air when we looked at work from Planet Nutshell. We just weren’t sure they were up to the challenge of explaining deep science in a serious medical field. However, after just one discussion with Planet Nutshell-ers Josh and Trevor, we saw that they had an pretty amazing ability to take complex concepts and come up with analogies that made sense. With no background in healthcare, much less genomics, Josh and Trevor quickly grasped what Foundation Medicine was bringing to the table for patients with cancer and they had great ideas about how to strike the right tone. We worked closely with the team to develop a script and a storyboard. Then they went to work…check out the final product:
We could go on and on about the amazingly positive feedback we have received proactively from patients, caregivers, oncologists and others… but first, some facts:
*The FoundationOne video is one of the key tools now used by Foundation Medicine client services to educate both physicians and patients about the test
*The video received 1,500 total plays within the first four weeks it was posted and has continued to get a steady stream of viewers from around the world.
*Average engagement is extraordinarily high: 78% of viewers watch 100% of the video vs. cutting it off in the middle. For frame of reference, a 42% engagement is typical for a video of this length .
Here’s what people had to say:
“[The video] is excellent! I have forwarded it to my family and several other people to whom I have spoken about FM.” – FoundationOne patient
“It is the single best tool that customer service has to explain to patients what to expect…it gives them piece of mind understanding what happens after their doctor orders the test.” – Foundation Medicine Client Service Representative
“I can use this to explain what I do to my parents! And they will get it!” – most Foundation Medicine employees
It is gratifying to us when we hear that this video helped to drive a decision that could help doctors and patients uncover the best treatment for an individual’s cancer. Planet Nutshell was a strong partner in helping to distill a very complex message to something meaningful across many audiences.
As in any industry, we tend to throw around TLAs (triple letter acronyms) and jargon terms all the time. It was actually really helpful for us to have the folks at Planet Nutshell remind us that these terms aren’t exactly common. They were able to a take a product and an industry about which they knew nothing and make it really simple and digestible.
We can’t wait for our next project! In the meantime, we’d encourage you to go take a spin around Planet Nutshell.
Mike Pellini, M.D., CEO of Foundation Medicine, on our Series B financing. Follow Mike on Twitter @michaelpellini
Foundation Medicine prides itself on being a different kind of company. Whether it’s in our labs or in our board room, we are continuously reshaping the way we think about problems to uncover new ideas that shift the status quo.
Today, we’re happy to announce a $42.5 million series B financing round. Together with our series A investors (who are a part of this round once again as well), we have attracted investors who are different from investors that you might customarily see involved in private company at a relatively young age.
These investors embrace the challenge of changing the standard of care for cancer. Their support will help us continue our core mission: to empower every physician with a comprehensive understanding of the genomic drivers behind each patient’s disease to help guide therapeutic decision-making.
Deerfield Management Company L.P., Casdin Capital, Redmile Group, Roche Venture Fund and WuXi Corporate Venture Fund join founding investor Third Rock Ventures and current venture capital backers Google Ventures and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Our board will stay the same, but we’re sure to benefit from having these new partners on the team as we work to take Foundation Medicine to the next level.
This video explains a little bit more about Foundation Medicine's mission:
How do you launch an assay that is innovative and that will catalyze a shift in the way cancer is treated? Foundation Medicine’s director of strategic marketing, Mary Pat Lancelotta, shares her experience over the past year and half leading up to the launch of FoundationOne™…and introduces our next launch: the FoundationOne blog.
In the past, I’ve worked with pathologists and other physicians in the diagnostic space and could see a clear need to help them to sift through the sheer amount of new information emerging in just the past several years. When I heard about Foundation Medicine, I knew that this technology would be a game changer. But it wasn’t enough to have ground-breaking technology. We had to develop a viable service, one that democratized the emerging technology, next-generation sequencing. To do that, we had to answer a few key questions:
Who are our customers?
Oncologists are puzzle solvers. They take all the information available about a patient and piece it together to make the best treatment decision. It is our job to give them information about the genomics of a patients’ tumor, and turn this into a clinical tool. The report we produce allows doctors to take all that genomic information and actually use it to make a decision.
How did we know what they wanted? Well, we asked them. We spent a lot of time talking to customers and potential customers before launching FoundationOne. We started running the test clinically in “pre-launch mode” after we were CLIA certified but before we had our commercial launch. And, we reached out and asked our customers what they liked, what they didn’t like, and what could be better. And at the time we launched, we incorporated their feedback to ensure our test, our report, and our service offerings would fit seamlessly into routine clinical practice.
What do they need?
The majority of cancer patients are cared for in the community. Their oncologists are under all sorts of pressure from many sources, from the overwhelming amount of new information they must incorporate into their practice, to the day-to-day time and financial challenges of running a successful practice while providing the best possible care for patients. Physicians might be doing everything they can to keep up, but there’s no way anyone can stay on top of the ever-evolving field.
What they need is a way to get the right molecular testing for their patients from the available tissue samples in a timely fashion, with genomic information interpreted for them in a way that fits into the context of a very busy clinical practice.
What was the key to a successful launch?
As we developed FoundationOne, we knew from listening to our customers that success would hinge on making it as easy to use as possible. We streamlined ordering. We worked hard to make the report as easy to read as possible (thanks, Google Ventures!), and we continue to iterate. We continue to strive to present clear, concise information about a patient’s genomic tumor profile that could help a busy oncologist and their patients make treatment decisions.
I’m extraordinarily proud to be part of the team that launched FoundationOne. From the very early days, we had a front seat view to the significant impact this technology is having in patient care, and that’s incredibly gratifying. Now, we must keep developing new ways to provide easy access to important information. That’s where this blog comes in.
Yes. A blog.
I’ve learned first-hand how complicated and overwhelming it can be to deal with cancer – a patient and their family feel like they need to become an expert in a field that they might know literally nothing about. We hear all sorts of questions from patients: What’s the relationship between cancer and DNA? Which cancer genes should I have tested? Where do you get a cancer DNA test or a cancer gene test? That’s one reason we worked with the guys at Planet Nutshell to put together a simple animated video (more on that in the next post). As a company, we have access to leading cancer research resources and we want every patient and physician who comes to us to be able to access and benefit from this information.
If you’ve read our website you know what we’re doing. This is the place where we’ll share why and how we’re doing it. We’re looking forward to getting started, we’ll try to have a little fun while we’re at it and we hope you’ll come back soon.