BioForward is reaching out to members to highlight their organizations through a new member profile feature to tell more of their stories. Empirico agreed to be interviewed as a part of our efforts to heighten the awareness of our region.

About your organization (200 words or less):

Empirico is an early-stage therapeutics company founded on utilizing huge datasets, human genetics, and programmable biology to power novel drug target discovery and development. We currently have two locations in the US, one in La Jolla, California, and the other in Madison, Wisconsin. Our La Jolla site is home to our drug target identification efforts using our Precision Insights PlatformTM, a proprietary human genetics-focused discovery platform that leverages our world-leading curated dataset, hyperscale infrastructure, and algorithmic approaches to interrogate the relationship between human gene variants and their associations with disease. The Madison site is the location of our target validation and drug discovery and development efforts. Using a variety of cell-based and disease model systems, we test the ability of our candidate drugs to impact the gene-associated disease. We believe this human data-centric approach to disease target identification combined with our drug discovery engine will help us create more effective medicines.

What do you find valuable about being a member of BioForward Wisconsin?

The purchasing group benefits for discounts and rebates have been great!  We also have taken advantage of the job postings section of the organization’s website. Having BioForward Wisconsin as a biotech resource has been incredibly helpful.

What are the key areas of or achievements by your organization that are impacting the state of Wisconsin and the overall biohealth industry?

We are a start-up company, so no big impacts……yet – stay tuned!

What about the future of research, medical, and technological innovation excites you the most?

We are in a period of amazing technological innovations in health care. Advances in DNA sequencing technologies and adoption of electronic health records combined with advances in machine learning tools have the potential to revolutionize patient care, create new diagnostics and facilitate the discovery of new medicines. At Empirico, we are excited to use our computational tools to help us unlock the genetics of human disease and to translate these insights into novel medicines.

Why Wisconsin? What does Wisconsin (and/or Madison/Milwaukee) offer for your company and/or your/its families?

The availability of affordable laboratory space was a key driver in our decision to base our operations in Madison. Empirico was one of the original members of the shared laboratory space at Forward BIOLABS in the University Research Park. Having that ready-to-go space and equipment allowed us to rapidly generate important data without having to make the significant capital outlay often required to outfit a modern biotechnology laboratory. We have since moved into our own laboratory space elsewhere in University Research Park and are looking forward to the Park’s expansion with the Element Labs project.

Having the University of Wisconsin as our neighbor is a definite bonus as well. We are utilizing resources at the UW Biotechnology Center, the Optical Imaging Core, the Drug Development Core’s Small Molecule Screening Facility, and the Flow Cytometry Laboratory, to name a few. The availability of these resources allows us to move quickly and economically from idea to results.

The lifestyle and affordability that Madison and its surrounding areas offer are very desirable. Its reputation makes it easier to recruit and retain employees.

What would you recommend or say to others about Wisconsin’s biohealth industry and research institutions?

The biohealth industry in Wisconsin comprises a wide variety of companies specializing in different areas. It is home to several small and large contract research organizations that support pre-clinical and clinical research, as well as providing chemical and biological analytical services. Contract manufacturing companies are also available for small molecules and biologics. Wisconsin is also home to large and small diagnostic companies, research product companies, and drug discovery and development companies. This private industry ecosystem, combined with Wisconsin’s world-class research universities and teaching hospitals, and the leading expertise of the respective faculty members, makes it an attractive place to start and grow a biohealth-focused company.

What is one thing others may not know about your organization?

We are a venture-capital funded company that has secured partnerships with other publicly traded biopharma companies who wish to leverage our Precision Insights PlatformTM.