SökerData Founder Dr. Elsa Zekeng. Image: SökerData

SökerData, a London-based, female-founded digital health startup, has been awarded a substantial portion of a £6.2 million grant by Innovate UK. The startup is set to advance the field of drug discovery through its innovative biomarker database project, aimed at enhancing disease characterisation and drug development efficiency. With a focus on bridging the gap in clinical trials and improving representation across demographics, SökerData stands at the forefront of targeted drug discovery and personalized medicine.

Biomarkers are crucial for identifying disease vulnerability, predicting clinical outcomes, and tailoring medical treatments to individual patient needs. However, the vast majority of genetic research has historically focused on populations of European descent, leaving a significant gap in understanding and treatment efficacy for diverse groups. Recognizing this disparity, SökerData’s project aims to diversify the pool of genetic data to better represent global populations, particularly in the context of diseases like breast cancer that show variable outcomes across different ethnic groups.

The funding from Innovate UK will support SökerData in two primary endeavors: the collection and curation of biomarkers from existing datasets and the development of a sophisticated database architecture. This investment will enable the company to create the world’s most diverse biomarker database, addressing a critical need in the pharmaceutical industry for more inclusive research and development processes.

Founded by Dr. Elsa Zekeng and CTO Rakia Finley, SökerData combines a deep understanding of healthcare innovation with cutting-edge technology. Dr. Zekeng, a noted European Commission Young Leader with extensive experience in strategy consulting, and Finley, a renowned AI and database architect with experience advising the Obama administration, bring their vast expertise to bear on SökerData’s mission. Together, they aim to revolutionize the way treatments for diseases, including cancer, are researched, developed, and administered.

SӧkerData Founder Dr. Elsa Zekeng shares: “SökerData’s mission is to use data to develop insights that increase efficiency, safety and equity in drug discovery and regulatory reporting. We have high hopes that SökerData will play a pivotal role in changing the way that we research, develop and administer treatments for disease including cancer.”

SökerData CTO Rakia Finley adds: “We are deeply grateful to Innovate UK for recognising the value of SökerData’s work. Despite significant advancements in pharmacology and precision medicine, we are still seeing facets of the global population being left behind the health innovation curve. SökerData seeks to set the tone for pharmaceutical R&D by plugging the gaping hole in the industry’s collective understanding of the ways that treatments work. As we continue to welcome new partners and expertise – including this support from Innovate UK – we hope to achieve that goal.”

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