Founders’ story: Seven Bridges

A Q&A with executives from Seven Bridges, a bioinformatics analysis business, highlights the company’s work in the precision medicine sector.

William Moss, Seven Bridges CEO

An interview with William (Bill) Moss, CEO, and Brandi Davis-Dusenbery, CSO, of bioinformatics business Seven Bridges.

Why did you join this company?

Bill: The majority of my career has focused on identifying transformative technologies and companies that I believe will have significant societal impact. I joined Seven Bridges with the belief that this company has the right people, technology and resources to lead a bioinformatics revolution that will accelerate scientific discovery and development of novel precision medicines and therapies for patients. Through our work we are creating valuable precision medicine solutions for an ever-increasing number of highly targeted patient populations, resulting in transformative advancements in life sciences and a healthier global population.

Brandi: In 2012, next-generation sequencing had reached a price point that was relatively attainable for larger-scale projects, and I was working at the Harvard Stem Cell lab where we were just starting to run some RNA sequencing studies on a variety of cell types to try to understand the underlying mechanisms of ALS. At that time, sequencing was still expensive enough that every run was critical, and, even more importantly, the samples that we were sequencing were extremely precious. 

It was important that the data we generated could be as widely used and as impactful as possible. But doing this caused all sorts of challenges — even with access to incredible local computational resources, analyzing our data was time consuming. And creating the structures to ensure it could be well-preserved and so that all of the analytics were reproducible was extremely burdensome. With this experience, I felt acutely the problems that Seven Bridges was trying to solve and saw first hand how enabling it could be to reduce the data logistics and orchestration challenges. 

In the six years since joining Seven Bridges, both sequencing and cloud costs have fallen dramatically, which not only creates more opportunity for researchers but also makes it dramatically more difficult to effectively ‘DIY’. Not only this, but we’re seeing today that many of our customers are looking to address much more than data management and orchestration, and Seven Bridges can be a huge accelerant in addressing diverse research challenges. 

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What specific need/problem are you seeking to address in healthcare?

Bill: Seven Bridges optimizes bioinformatic and scientific methods used to engineer novel precision medicines and therapies to significantly decrease the time, cost, and risk in the discovery-through-commercialization cycle.  As the only commercial entity with NIH Trusted Partner status and the underlying provider for world-leading public and national genomic programs, we have a proven history of democratizing access to a wide array of data, tools, and algorithms, with multi cloud (public, private, or hybrid) processing of disparate datasets in their source locations.

At Seven Bridges, we believe that accelerating scientific innovation will drive the evolution of bioinformatics in precision medicine. Increasing the accuracy and completeness of highly targeted custom analytic experiments within the iterative exploratory process will be the key to meaningful discoveries and ensuing breakthroughs. Seven Bridges is transforming the foundational approach to such analyses with our implementation of directed acyclic graphs for genomic analyses, which enables researchers to rapidly enhance the linear reference to remove inherent biases, more completely represent targeted populations, and empower researchers to more aggressively target the specific objective of their experiments. Combined with our new ARIA platform, which is designed for studies at the 1 million-plus participant scale, these advancements will enable the availability of a greater number of precision medicine solutions.

What does your product do? How does it work?*

Brandi: The Seven Bridges Platform is the foundation for our highly collaborative ecosystem. It is a cloud-based environment for conducting bioinformatic analyses. The platform supports an iterative approach, in which researchers can modify their tools and examine the data from every angle to tease out the actionable information that will produce meaningful information to advance their research. On the Seven Bridges Platform, researchers are able to collaborate within a cloud-based single pane of glass environment, enabling globally distributed, cross-functional teams to share and interpret data together. The platform co-locates analysis pipelines alongside the largest genomic datasets to optimize processing. It also can allocate storage and compute resources on demand, to meet the needs of ever-growing analyses.  

Is this your first healthcare startup? What’s your background in healthcare?*

Bill: Prior to assuming the role of Seven Bridges CEO in early 2019, I served as the company’s Chief Operations Officer and President of Commercial Operations, facilitating the development of our biopharma corporate strategy, and working closely with the leadership team to move Seven Bridges into the next stage of growth. I have spent the majority of my career leading emerging insurtech and health science technology organizations to achieve their long term operational goals and realize the maximum potential for their innovative products and  services. 

Brandi:  Seven Bridges, which I joined in 2014, is the first healthcare startup I’ve worked for in my career. Prior to my position as Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) of Seven Bridges, I was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology at Harvard University, where I developed technologies to combine multidimensional data (including small RNA, protein coding RNA, whole genome sequencing, imaging and proteomics) derived from induced pluripotent stem cells from either healthy controls or ALS patients. This work led to publications in Cell Stem Cell, Stem Cell Reports and Nature Neuroscience

Who is your customer? How do you generate revenue?*

Bill: We have a proven 10-year track record of partnering with both leading biotech and pharma organizations, as well as serving as the underlying provider for large-scale public and national genomics programs. 

Do you have clinical validation for your product?*

Last year, Seven Bridges was selected as the core informatics supplier by the UK Biobank in partnership with Sanger to sequence and analyze 50,000 participant samples associated with the whole genome sequencing (WGS) Vanguard Phase. The UK Biobank’s Whole Genome Sequencing Programme aims to host the world’s largest public health resource. The goal is to create a resource of detailed information that will help scientists find out why some people get illnesses like cancer, heart disease, diabetes and depression and others do not. Researchers are already using UK Biobank genetic data — linked to a wide range of health outcomes — to study health, and insights from the data have already been published in more than 1,000 scientific papers worldwide.

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