In 2012, Peter Travers of LifeBridge Innovations and his family received the worst news possible: After battling breast cancer nine times in 15 years, Laurie Travers had developed severe lung cancer that became reoccurring and non-responsive to most treatments. Her lung was collapsing and the family was getting their affairs in order.
“Then, we heard about a new therapy called Tumor Treating Fields,” said Peter Travers, Laurie’s husband. Tumor Treating Fields (TTF) had worked on 18 different types of cancer but wasn’t available to patients like Laurie at the time. Determined to extend her life, Travers formed a group of senior engineers and built a TTF device from the ground up. The thought of starting a business hadn’t even crossed his mind—he simply wanted to help his wife enjoy the time she had left.
Although Travers successfully helped his wife extend her life for another three years, the original TTF device wasn’t equipped to save Laurie when her cancer metastasized and efforts to build a new device weren’t far enough along. Sadly, Laurie passed away in 2016.
Inspired by Laurie’s memory, Travers has since dedicated his career to saving metastatic cancer patients like his wife. As CEO of LifeBridge Innovations, he leads the team responsible for building a new form of TTF for late-stage cancer patients who have the disease in multiple locations. Unlike traditional TTF, which only treats cancer cells in one location, the science behind LifeBridge’s new device would allow for dynamic reassignment to cover any area of the body.
“I really do love the job I’m doing,” he said. “I can’t imagine getting up in the morning and thinking of anything else that’s more fun and exciting to do. You know, my wife was not supposed to see her first grandchild, but she did because of our therapy. There’s a joy in that I don’t think I could find anywhere else.”
Travers is no stranger to entrepreneurship. Part of LifeBridge’s success stems from leadership lessons he learned as an owner of three other companies. He’s also grateful to the Central Florida business community for getting him through the “valley of death”—a challenging time in the early days of a startup before it begins generating revenue.
The UCF Business Incubation Program connected Travers to legal counsel for patenting and introduced him to Cenfluence, through which he met several industry colleagues for the first time. In the span of just one 45-minute conversation at a Cenfluence member event, Travers uncovered two other business ideas. “It was very inspiring and I look forward to doing more with the Life Sciences group in the future.”
LifeBridge has also benefitted from acceptance in the Johnson & Johnson Innovations – JLABS global life sciences network—an opportunity Travers learned about thanks to the Cenfluence team.
“We think the future is just brighter and brighter for the health sciences here in Central Florida,” said Travers. “We do have a long way to go compared to Maryland and the D.C. area, but we’re growing more and more each year.”
LifeBridge is leading a wave of life sciences and medical technology companies that are finding success in the region. In 2023, the company plans to hire up to six new employees, explore the potential for clinical trials to treat children’s cancers, and take steps toward approval of its next-generation TTF technology by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Company: LifeBridge Innovations
Number of Employees: 4
Number one driver of success: Building a team with a network of support
Hobbies: spending time with the grandkids
First Job: Running machinery at my father’s factory at 14 years old
For more 2023 Innovators to Watch, read our full roundup »