Columbus Startup Wants to Bring Cutting-Edge Clinical Trials to All

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Deep Lens is revolutionizing community healthcare to close gaps in next-generation medicine

Advances in medicine are coming faster than ever thanks to the amazing work done in clinical trials, particularly in cancer treatment. In Ohio alone, healthcare systems at Ohio State, the Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals and many more are bringing incredible outcomes to their patients through amazing new treatments. But as groundbreaking as those treatments can be, they’re not always easily accessible to everyone who needs them, particularly those outside the scope of the major health systems who rely on smaller community systems for their care. To close that gap and make these life-saving clinical trials more accessible, Columbus startup Deep Lens wants to revolutionize the industry.

“We are a patient-matching solution for clinical trials that really focuses on communities. We’re trying to bring these cutting-edge oncology therapies into your community,” said CEO and co-founder Dave Billiter. “We’ve established ourselves as one of the cutting-edge technology companies in the clinical trial space, using automation, artificial intelligence and machine learning for our patient-matching engine. We also provide our services to help community healthcare systems act like a big, academic medical center. We provide the necessary technology, automation and services so that they can be part of these therapies.”

TJ Bowen, Deep Lens’ chief scientific officer and co-founder, said advancements in precision medicine are rapidly changing oncology care for the better, giving patients more and higher quality treatment options. Some treatments can even claim to offer a cure, something previously unheard of in the industry. But, he said, 80 percent of patients in America are treated in community settings, which often lack the connectivity and technology required to match them with such treatments. Giving those patients the best access is at the heart of the Deep Lens mission.

“We’re changing the paradigm of how clinical trials are delivered,” he said. “A lot of patients don’t have the means to get to the big cancer centers where a lot of these trials are happening. There are a lot of different criteria involved in getting a patient approved or accepted into a trial. We track patients from the beginning, which prevents them from falling through the cracks. And we know the sentiments about trials are changing. Ten years ago, patients saw them as the last resort. Now, there’s a big movement for clinical research as a care option, and empowering the community to run those trials is huge. We want to change the whole way trials are done.”

Not every state can boast multiple world-renowned medical systems like Ohio, so Deep Lens’ leaders know there’s room to make a major impact on the entire country. Anywhere patients may need clinical trials, Deep Lens can provide value. And the company doesn’t just focus on helping patients, it’s creating efficiency and progress for the medical and pharmaceutical industries as well.

“The upside is huge and the opportunity is really big, particularly in oncology,” said Bowen. “Providers are looking to do more research for more trials, which we’re enabling. Patients really want to participate in more trials, which we’re enabling. And sponsors have had this problem finding enough patients to fill their trials, which we’re enabling. So it’s a win-win-win scenario, and there’s tons of room for us to grow.”

Its founders aren’t the only ones excited by what Deep Lens can offer. The company has already secured $14 million in Series A investment and has a growing team of more than 30 employees. More than 150 sites have adopted their tech, and the company is forming partnerships with pharmaceutical groups and clinical research organizations who run trials with those pharmaceutical companies. They’ve even partnered with world-renowned Cardinal Health in central Ohio.

As they pursue the huge growth they envision, the Deep Lens team knows they’re in the right place. From their downtown Columbus home next to Root Insurance, it’s easy for them to see how large the project could become, and how many nearby resources can help get them there.

“We’re very passionate about Ohio and keeping our headquarters here,” said Billiter. “Very early on, we worked with Rev1 and went through their startup sessions. There were a lot of individuals who supported us on day one and continue to support us not just by writing a check, but by picking up the phone and answering questions. I also get excited about talking about how much talent is here in Ohio. Even people in Silicon Valley have told me they’re impressed by how much talent they see her in Columbus. So that’s a significant advantage for us.”

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