M.D., Ph.D., CEO, Inflammatix
Tim Sweeney, MD, PhD is the co-founder and CEO of Inflammatix, Inc., which focuses on using robust informatics and machine learning to derive novel HostDx™ diagnostics based on ‘reading’ patterns in the immune system. Inflammatix’s first tests are focused on diagnosing acute bacterial and viral infections and sepsis. The company is funded by Khosla Ventures, Stanford-StartX Fund and the U.S. government’s DARPA program. Dr. Sweeney completed his MD and PhD at Duke University, after which he was a surgery resident at Stanford. While training as a surgeon, he became frustrated with the limitations of current diagnostic tools for infection. During his residency, he completed a postdoctorate MS in Biomedical Informatics, mentored by Dr. Purvesh Khatri. Together they designed the custom informatics algorithms for sifting through heterogeneous ‘big data,’ which formed the core technology on which Inflammatix is based.
Clinical Dx Showcase: Decoding The Immune Response: The HostDx Diagnostics for Acute Infections and Sepsis
Challenges in diagnosing infections and their severity have led to the major global problems of antibiotic resistance and sepsis. Because there are no clinical tools for rapidly and reliably distinguishing bacterial infections and their severity, patients are often blindly treated with antibiotics – and sepsis is often missed altogether. Immune responses to infections vary across populations and settings, so finding common gene expression signatures involved in the host immune response has previously eluded researchers. Inflammatix has overcome this challenge with its custom informatics pipeline, which combines data science, machine learning, and domain expertise. The Inflammatix HostDx™ Sepsis test was discovered by integrating transcriptomics data from multiple datasets, using 1,104 samples from 16 cohorts, and has been extensively independently validated in 2,450 patients from 38 retrospective cohorts. Results have been published in leading journals including Science Translational Medicine and Critical Care Medicine. The market need for HostDx Sepsis is significant: over 90% of physicians would order the test 10+ times/week in current practice. The custom ‘big data’ informatics pipeline will allow for rapid menu expansion of HostDx tests in other types of infections, immune disorders, and cancer. The company is developing its tests into rapid (<60 minute), fluidic, point-of-need assays in collaboration with diagnostics instrument partners.