Sema4, a Mount Sinai spinout, launches with a focus on genomics

dna, genomics

New York City, New York-based Mount Sinai Health System has launched a new spinout company: Sema4.

The for-profit startup has been created from numerous parts of Mount Sinai’s Department of Genetics and Genomic Sciences and the Icahn Institute for Genomics and Multiscale Biology.

Pronounced “semaphore,” the company will utilize genomic and clinical data to transform overall clinical diagnostics. By combining everything from predictive modeling to open access data, it aims to be able to better treat and diagnose diseases.

Sema4 will be run by Eric Schadt, the chair of the Department of Genetics and Genomic Sciences and the founding director of the Icahn Institute for Genomics and Multiscale Biology.

Schadt initially came to Mount Sinai about five years ago and has since helped grow its footprint in big data and genomics. But the current landscape presented an opportune time to create Sema4.

As genomic testing becomes more complex, Schadt explained, it came down to a few questions for Mount Sinai: “How do we scale all of this? How do we aggregate and manage really large scales of data and compute on it? The decision was that it’s better done as an independent company still in partnership with Sinai,” he told MedCity in a phone interview.

Mount Sinai and Sema4 will continue to be heavily involved with each other. Sema4 is the provider of all genetic testing services for Mount Sinai. And Mount Sinai will play a key role in technology development, data mining and data integration for Sema4.

“We’ll have a very, very intimate relationship,” Schadt said. “But now we are an independent, for-profit company that is presently wholly owned by Mount Sinai.”

Mount Sinai has made a large investment in Sema4 and is currently the company’s sole investor. Over the next 12 to 18 months, the startup will use those funds to grow its business, particularly its sales and marketing teams.

But after time, Sema4 will begin raising additional capital to boost the genetic testing and data sciences portions of its business.

“Once we’re stood up as a company and have our footing that way, we’ll be in a better position to more aggressively pursue the information side, and that’ll take an even bigger investment,” Schadt said.

He did not share any specific numbers with MedCity about how much Sema4 will be looking to raise.

Currently, reproductive health is a major focus area for the startup. But moving forward, Schadt said Sema4 wants to increase its involvement in the oncology space. Additionally, the company has set its sights on using digital health tools to better engage patients.

Prior to Sema4, Mount Sinai’s AppLab and Mount Sinai Innovation Partners launched a startup called Responsive Health for app distribution platform RxUniverse.

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