The king of tech convergence in oncology, plus billions
Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong
Biotech billionaire and inventor
Some guys stand out for developing drugs. Others pride themselves on inventing them. Then there are those who bring IT firepower to the equation. Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong is all these things and more, because he's got billions of dollars at his disposal to combine key pieces of infrastructure to speed new treatments to patients.
A surgeon by training, South African-born Soon-Shiong has been assembling the parts of what he envisions to be the future of cancer care, thanks in part to an estimated personal fortune of $7 billion from the sales of his biopharma companies Abraxis to Celgene ($CELG) in 2010 and the previous sale of APP Pharma to Fresenius. In his view, the future of oncology care involves a social network of sorts for cancer backed by advanced genomics and supercomputing to change many cancers from death sentences to manageable diseases.
In 2011, as Forbes reported, Soon-Shiong wrote a $100 million check to update the National LambdaRail, the nonprofit behind the 12,000-mile fiber-optic network that links physicians with data from big science projects such as The Human Cancer Atlas. Next, he established a supercomputer center in Phoenix that can analyze tumor genes in under a minute. The fiber-optic network can rapidly ferry the results to oncologists in mere seconds, exorcising inefficiencies that would normally make the analysis of tumors and transfer of results take days or weeks.
Amid these healthcare efforts, Soon-Shiong has garnered the spotlight for his ownership stake in the L.A. Lakers and being the richest guy in the NBA team's home city.
Recently, however, Soon-Shiong has revealed that he is nowhere near done with pharmaceuticals, which made him richer than his neighbors from Hollywood in the first place. He has launched NantOmics to develop cancer drugs much faster than past oncology products, with the help of the computer-enabled analysis and fiber-optic network he has already put in place.
"We've discovered that there are actually twenty-two thousand genes that cause a mutation," Soon-Shiong told Bloomberg TV last month. "We've now built the way of analyzing these twenty-two thousand genes and finding the protein [mutation behind tumors] in 47 seconds. We're going to bring that power to the community of cancer patients."
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