The Epimetrics Group was founded in 2001 by Stan Kaufman, MD, a board-certified cardiologist and entrepreneur, to build and deploy information technology solutions for collaborative efforts in clinical research and other domains.

Stan himself was a clinical cardiologist in Seattle for most of a decade until in 1994 he grew bored with the routine and excited by the possibilities the web brought to the Internet. He did a research fellowship in medical informatics from 1995-7 working primarily at the University of Washington’s Human Interface Technology Lab in Seattle. He investigated “augmented reality interfaces to complex medical information” by day and by night worked on web-based database-backed systems written in C++.

Had he been a cleverer systems engineer, he might have succeeded in producing the kinds of “middleware” application tools like Cold Fusion or more recently Drupal or Ruby on Rails. However, even though his tentative efforts at low-level plumbing fell far short, the potential for doing incredibly useful and cool things via web applications became abundantly clear.

After putting together an ultimately unsuccessful startup during 1998 — one of the seemingly few from that that era that didn’t zoom through to a big IPO payday — Stan decided that his skills at becoming immensely wealthy were quite limited and that a more pedestrian approach of consulting and small-scale contracts would be the most plausible way forward.

In 1999 he and his wife Julia moved to San Francisco, where Stan did a series of short-term consulting gigs and contract jobs around the region while he monitored the direction of the winds. At a seminar at Stanford in 2000, Stan heard about OpenACS, an open source web community system being developed at MIT by Philip Greenspun and colleagues. This project constituted a sort of “web site in a box” that defined and implemented the various functional components needed for collaborative projects. This vision was so compelling to Stan — and in fact implemented brilliantly the type of system Stan had tried and failed to build himself years earlier — that Stan dropped the Java-based work he was doing and embraced OpenACS’s retro Tcl code base.

By 2001, The Epimetrics Group was ready to roll, with a thoroughly customized set of applications running on the basic OpenACS platform. The client base expanded slowly but steadily primarily through word of mouth among Stan’s colleagues in the academic medical world. En route, Stan contributed two years as chair of the Clinical Research Informatics Working Group of the American Medical Informatics Association.

In 2006, the new upstart web toolkit Ruby on Rails was becoming more and more persuasive, so in 2007, The Epimetrics Group undertook to rewrite all its systems using Rails, which is our base now. This transition has made us much more nimble and able to devise new applications much more reliably and robustly.

For the foreseeable future, we expect to continue to develop in Rails and engage interesting work in whatever domain we find it — primarily in the clinical research realm probably but in other areas where distributed collaborative tasks are performed.

Created: October 09, 2009 22:47
Last updated: March 09, 2010 00:43


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