He learned he had melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.
Now 67, he beat the disease but still believes he would not have survived without personal connections who guided him toward cutting-edge treatments.
The experience convinced him that the key to advancing cancer treatment and research is forging connections on as large a scale as possible.
On Tuesday, he plans to launch a Web application called Cancer Commons to bring together patients, physicians and scientists. The hope is that the so-called wisdom of the crowd can lead to the best therapies.