Blackfynn was founded in 2015 by a multidisciplinary team of experts in neurology, neuroscience, computer science, medicine and engineering from the University of Pennsylvania. We share a common vision that the ability to easily use and rapidly discover patterns hidden in the vast amounts of complex data generated in medical research will lead to improved therapeutics for human disease. Blackfynn brings together data science and domain expertise in neurology to accelerate and improve treatment and care for patients with neurological disease.
One in seven people worldwide is affected by a neurologic disorder; none have disease modifying therapies available. Neuroscience is at a unique crossroads: new technologies are rapidly generating vast amounts of highly complex, feature-rich data using sophisticated tools in genomics, imaging and physiology. Despite billions of dollars of investment, this crucial data - required for breakthrough discoveries – remains siloed, difficult to use, often locked in proprietary formats and hidden from the multidisciplinary, multi-site collaborative teams who can put the pieces together to find important patterns. Blackfynn eliminates these barriers, and enables faster, more effective development of therapeutics and care pathways.
Extending leadership in neurology
Today, Blackfynn announced several key milestones in the company’s growth, including a $1.4M contract with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), deployment of the Blackfynn Data Platform within the Children’s Brain Tumor Tissue Consortium (CBTTC) led by Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), newly-established collaborations with Mayo Clinic, Medtronic, the University of Pennsylvania, the Epilepsy Study Consortium, and expansion of its core team and expert advisory boards.
Blackfynn supports the DARPA ElectRx program, a consortium of eight principle groups and numerous other research entities conducting basic and translational research of “electroceuticals” or “bioelectronic medicines”: miniaturized, closed-loop devices to treat disease by modulating the activity of peripheral nerves. As the most forward-thinking, cutting-edge funding agency in the world, DARPA selected Blackfynn to provide enabling infrastructure for data integration, management and closed-loop analytics for the key players in this exciting emerging field. Blackfynn will receive up to $1.4M and will develop software solutions that will be leveraged across Blackfynn’s platform to remove barriers to biomarker discovery and to foster collaborative research.
Blackfynn and the Children’s Brain Tumor Tissue Consortium (CBTTC), with the Operations Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), established a partnership to empower its members to access, visualize and collaborate on complex data generated in the study of pediatric brain tumors to accelerate translational research toward a cure. The thirteen CBTTC member sites, including CHOP, Stanford, UCSF, Chicago Lurie Children’s, Seattle Children’s, University of Pittsburgh Children’s Hospital, Rutgers, Cornell, Children’s National, Hackensack Medical Center, CHOC Children’s, Meyer Children’s and UCSC, will use Blackfynn’s platform for pathology, radiology, EEG, genomics, clinical data and relevant metadata, to ultimately identify multi-modal biomarkers of disease, and to predict response to therapy and allow for effective patient stratification. Blackfynn is leveraging these capabilities to facilitate paradigm shifts in translational research more broadly.
Mayo Clinic, University of Pennsylvania, and Medtronic, Inc.
Blackfynn is collaborating with the University of Pennsylvania, Mayo Clinic, and Medtronic to manage device data in real time, apply feature detection algorithms, and enable an interactive seizure diary for Medtronic’s next-generation RC+S neurostimulation device. This work is part of a five-year UH2 BRAIN Initiative grant funded by the NIH. The RC+S device is an investigational implanted device in pilot testing that can telemeter data and provide programmable, rechargeable, therapeutic neurostimulation for epilepsy patients. Blackfynn will provide solutions to track patients’ seizure frequency and clinical condition, which will potentially lead to personalized therapy for individual patients, improving patient outcomes.
Epilepsy Study Consortium
The Epilepsy Study Consortium is a group of scientific investigators from academic medical research centers who are dedicated to accelerating the development of new therapies in epilepsy to improve patient care. Blackfynn is working with the Epilepsy Study Consortium to streamline patient enrollment and data sharing for epilepsy clinical trials worldwide.
Blackfynn and Persyst, the leader in clinical EEG software, have partnered to provide seamless tools for epilepsy researchers and clinicians in both research and clinical settings.
Expansion of our Scientific Advisory Boards and Core Team
Blackfynn has grown its leadership and product teams to include multidisciplinary experts in medicine, software development, bioinformatics, neuroscience, engineering, design, and life sciences. In addition, we are proud to work with thought leaders in key clinical domains as members of Blackfynn’s SAB:
- The Epilepsy Study Consortium and Jacqueline French, MD, Professor of Neurology, NYU Comprehensive Epilepsy Center, New York University, Director Epilepsy Study Consortium
- Karen Wilcox, PhD, Professor and Chair, Director: Anticonvulsant Drug Development (ADD) Program, Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology, University of Utah
- Greg Worrell, MD, PhD, Professor of Neurology, Mayo Clinic
- Annamaria Vezzani, PhD, Head, Department of Neuroscience and Laboratory of Experimental Neurology, Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research, Milano, Italy
- Brian Litt, MD, Blackfynn co-founder and Professor of Neurology and Biomedical Engineering, University of Pennsylvania
- Sean Grady, MD, Professor and Chair, Department of Neurosurgery, University of Pennsylvania
- Ray Dorsey, MD, Professor of Neurology and Director, Center for Human Experimental Therapeutics, University of Rochester
- John Detre, MD, Director, Center for Functional Imaging, Professor of Neurology, Professor of Radiology, University of Pennsylvania
- Tim Harris, PhD, Venture Partner SV Life Sciences; Formerly SVP Precision Medicine, Biogen
- Zack Ives, PhD, co-founder and Professor of Computer Science, University of Pennsylvania
Mayo Clinic and Dr. Worrell have a financial interest in the collaboration referenced in the press release. The revenue that Mayo Clinic will receive is used to support its not-for-profit mission in patient care, education and research. Dr. Litt and Dr. Ives are both Blackfynn founders and own equity in the company. Drs. Litt, Grady, Detre and Ives are all members of the scientific advisory board for Blackfynn and receive stock options in the company in exchange for their service. Dr. Ives is a co-inventor of technology that Blackfynn has exclusively licensed from the University of Pennsylvania.
Blackfynn is a technology-driven, life-sciences company dedicated to transforming the way neurological diseases are diagnosed and treated. We combine high-quality patient data, proprietary software, and our multidisciplinary team of domain experts to drive transformational science and the development of effective therapies for the one billion people worldwide who are affected by neurological disease. We partner with pharma and biotech companies, device companies, foundations, government and academic medical centers to achieve this goal. For more information, please visit www.blackfynn.com.