Ahead of SPAC deal sign-off, Sema4 recruits its first data chief from Mount Sinai

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Andrew Kasarskis, former chief data officer at Mount Sinai Health System, will take on the same, inaugural role at the healthcare analytics company Sema4, which aims to go public through a SPAC deal this summer. (Getty Images)

With a handful of new genomics and data analytics partnerships under its belt—and plans to go public through a SPAC deal this summer—Sema4 is now on a mad dash to fill out its C-suite.

Since the beginning of the year, the healthcare software developer has picked up a new chief medical science officer and chief financial officer. The former is William Oh, who served as chief of hematology and medical oncology at Mount Sinai Health System, while the latter is Isaac Ro, previously CFO of Thrive Earlier Detection.

The latest hire is Andrew Kasarskis, another Mount Sinai alum, whose most recent role was chief data officer of the New York City-based provider. He’ll take on the same job title at Sema4, as the first to hold the position at the company.

Kasarskis will lead the expansion of Sema4’s healthcare intelligence platform, aimed at building models capable of predicting the courses of conditions and individual outcomes, according to Sema4 founder and CEO Eric Schadt.

The Sema4 platform uses machine learning and other artificial intelligence tools to analyze a database of more than 10 million patient genomic profiles and clinical records, with the goal of improving physicians’ ability to diagnose, manage and ultimately prevent disease.

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Kasarskis also brings years of experience as a genomics scientist. At Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine, he spent more than seven years as director of the Institute for Genomics and Multiscale Biology, and nearly a decade as a professor in the genetics and genomic sciences department.

Before that, he was head of strategic initiatives at Sage Bionetworks until early 2010, when he joined the sequencer manufacturer Pacific Biosciences as a senior director for about a year and half.

 Kasarskis also spent more than seven years at Merck, culminating in a stint as global head of genetics. While there, he worked alongside Schadt to build up the Big Pharma's genetics department.

In fact, Kasarskis’ career has moved largely in parallel with Schadt’s: After leaving Merck, the Sema4 CEO worked as chief scientific officer at Pacific Biosciences, then co-founded Sage Bionetworks in 2009. Schadt also was founding director of the Institute for Genomics and Multiscale Biology at Mount Sinai and maintains a role as dean for precision medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine, where Kasarskis will also remain a lecturer.

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Kasarskis' appointment comes shortly after Sema4 filed a preliminary proxy statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission regarding its proposed merger with the special purpose acquisition company CM Life Sciences, backed by Casdin Capital and Corvex Management.

Once the SEC completes its review of the filing and proposed combination, Sema4 will make its Nasdaq debut as a public company, listed under a yet-to-be-announced ticker symbol. The deal is expected to be finalized by the end of July.

Sema4 and CM Life Sciences first announced their intent to combine in February. At the time, they estimated that the deal’s finalization would bring the combined company approximately $793 million, with up to $343 million of that going directly to Sema4 stockholders.