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U Startup Invited to Esteemed Entrepreneurial Forum

University of Utah faculty members Leslie Lenert (left) and Lewis Frey invented a program that recommends health care treatment options to doctors and patients.

May 29, 2013 – A new University of Utah startup company received an invitation to attend the prestigious Siemens New Ventures Forum in June in Berkeley, Calif.

Only 12 of more than 100 applicants were invited to attend the exclusive forum, which provides startups an opportunity to perfect their business pitch and network with Siemens, a global electronic health care company, which could lead to investments, joint development deals or licensing agreements.

Faculty inventors from the School of Medicine Lewis Frey, assistant professor of biomedical informatics, and Leslie Lenert, physician and professor of internal medicine, will attend the event. They created an algorithm, or mathematical formula for processing data, that searches through hospital records to compare patients with similar symptoms and recommends treatment options to both doctors and patients.

“Getting into the Siemens Forum is extremely competitive and a major accomplishment for the faculty inventors and students involved,” said Troy D’Ambrosio, executive director of the U’s Lassonde Entrepreneur Center. “Attending the event will accelerate the business and help attract investors.”

The algorithm works a lot like Amazon’s recommendation engine – except instead of suggesting what other products the users might like, it recommends treatment options based on the patient’s symptoms and medical history.

Lenert and Frey worked with graduate students Chinmayee Bhimarao, Spencer Bacon and Anetta Pietrzak from the U’s Lassonde New Venture Development Center to develop a business plan, and the students wrote and submitted the application for the Siemens forum.

The technology is already the subject of two pending patent applications, and Lenert and Frey have submitted a proposal for a pilot project with the U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which would allow them to use the VA’s database of millions of patients to test and refine the program.

“We’re excited that the students helped us land the Siemens New Ventures Forum,” Frey said. “This will build critical exposure to key players in the health care industry and help us secure investments we need in order to take our product to market and help patients around the world.”