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Computational Biology: How Our Team is Pushing the Boundaries of Cancer Research

Foundation Medicine’s Computational Biology team (Comp Bio) is an interdisciplinary group that develops innovative diagnostic tools using the latest advancements in science. Their work drives the transformation of cancer care and helps distinguish our company as leaders in the industry. Comprised of computational biologists, molecular biologists, software engineers and other skilled specialists, the team leverages their wide range of expertise with our robust datasets to enhance our understanding of next generation sequencing (NGS). Gain insight from three Principal Scientists — Andrej Savol, Neil Peterman and Justin Newberg — about Comp Bio’s role in driving innovation at our company. Each scientist brings their unique expertise and perspectives to the team, united by a shared commitment to advancing cancer research. 

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Passion for impacting patients in a meaningful, lasting way resonates with every member of the team. As Justin proudly states, “We are lucky to have a clear purpose.” Patient impact serves as a guiding force through the natural challenges of product development. “This purpose creates a culture built on, ‘what we’re doing here is truly powerful and serious,’” Neil attests. The team’s dedication to our mission shapes their day-to-day efforts and long-term goals; working on results for patients today helps lay the groundwork for breakthroughs in the future. Justin states that at our company, the mission is direct and motivating in a positive way, “and that’s what is really exciting about Foundation Medicine.” Whether it’s a new project or challenge, this team is driven by the knowledge that their efforts can truly make a difference in the lives of those affected by cancer. 

Comp Bio’s passion for their work is magnified by its remarkable ability to impact patients, making their efforts all the more rewarding. This is what initially drew Andrej to Foundation Medicine, “I like that we are turning what we find into something actionable; something a doctor or care team can use, and a biopharmaceutical company can rely on.” The team’s commitment to translating their work into actionable outcomes is evident in all aspects. Neil builds on this idea with insight about how their team does this so effectively; he explains that many companies have ambitious goals but lack resources, and others have the resources but lack innovation. Neil points out, “at the nexus of those categories is Foundation Medicine, which has been making a deliberate effort to develop innovative technology by dedicating resources, organizing the teams and cultivating the culture necessary to make that happen.” By these means, our company makes a measurable impact on patients and continues to inspire innovation for the future. 

As pioneers in cancer research, we have attracted a team of Comp Bio experts who are committed to pushing the boundaries of science. Neil states, “We are striving to change how cancer is treated. We are re-envisioning the way patients and doctors can understand and navigate a cancer diagnosis. We are determined to meet our ambitious goals and are prepared and eager to do the work necessary to pull them off.” Their ability to consistently set and achieve new goals is proven by the development of our expanding portfolio. They seek to improve current products and develop new complex systems, revolutionizing how we approach cancer care. Collaborating closely with Research and Development, the team strategically tackles challenges, examines all viable solutions and aims to uncover any new information in their path. They are working to demonstrate the utility of our testing in earlier stages of disease and to advance our monitoring technology by detecting a patient's response to therapy through a simple blood draw.  Their pursuit of innovation sets the stage for growth and bright possibilities for the future.  

Foundation Medicine’s extensive data sets uniquely position our company at the forefront of cancer research. With access to over 600,000 de-identified patient tumor samples available for research through our FoundationCore database, “our potential for finding clinically relevant subpopulations of patients and conditions is significant,” per Andrej. Our research is further distinguished by our more than 125,000 linked patient profiles in the Flatiron Health-Foundation Medicine Clinico-Genomic Database (CGDB), which equips our team to further analyze how genomic information impacts patient outcomes. The advanced insights that Comp Bio gleans from this data set fuel the development of more precise treatment options that can help more patients. This information, coupled with our scientists’ ability to leverage it, is an invaluable asset to the advancement of cancer research. 

Through their dedicated efforts, Foundation Medicine’s Comp Bio team continues to make significant strides in cancer research, with the goal of delivering breakthroughs that help more patients in the future. Their pursuit of excellence and mission-driven approach is evident in their accomplishments and fuels their commitment to pushing the boundaries of cancer research in the future. 

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