Client story

Protecting patient data through artificial intelligence

A local start-up finds its home in one of Baltimore’s historic neighborhoods


12,000 square feet


1629 Thames St, Baltimore, MD


While attending the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Nick Culbertson and Robert Lord saw firsthand how electronic medical records were being used to improve patient care and share data more efficiently. They also observed that electronic medical records created a whole new slate of serious security and privacy concerns. It was then, in 2014, that Nick and Robert developed the initial prototype and algorithms that launched Protenus, a company with the goal of fulfilling a critical need to better protect patient data in electronic health records. Since that time, this Baltimore-bred company has assembled one of the strongest technology teams in the region and recently found its new home in Baltimore’s historic Fells Point neighborhood.

Protenus’ technology leverages artificial intelligence to help healthcare systems maintain compliance, increase workflow efficiencies and reduce operational risk. Not surprisingly, this service is in high demand given the complex nature of today’s healthcare systems, so it was critical for Protenus that their future office accommodate aggressive growth plans. Since its founding, Protenus had moved a handful of times due to rapid expansion. These moves had been reactive rather than proactive, but now it was time to think critically about how the right office could facilitate Protenus’ growth and success. They needed an office for the long-term, and they needed a team like JLL to give them the attention and services they deserved.

JLL’s relationship with Protenus dates back to when Nick and JLL’s Peter Jackson volunteered together at The 6th Branch in Baltimore. As they got to know one another, Peter learned about Protenus, its mission and its goals. It became clear that the young company needed a new location to thrive. Peter tapped fellow JLL colleague Brendan Lough to join the team, and together with Nick and Protenus’ Chief People Officer Megan Emhoff, they began the search for an ideal office space to carry Protenus through its next chapter.

In addition to growth flexibility, Protenus was looking for a space that could accommodate the company’s work with highly sensitive data and patient information. The space would need to be digitally and physically private and independent of any other tenants or neighbors. Protenus also wanted to be in a vibrant, amenity-rich location that was convenient for commuting employees and, ideally, dog-friendly. Peter and Brendan led a comprehensive search of over 30 possible options that ultimately ended at Brown’s Wharf, where Protenus found a beautiful 12,000-square-foot space that checked all the boxes. The significance of this location was not lost on anyone: Brown’s Wharf has presided over the entrance to the city’s Inner Harbor for more than two centuries. At the time Protenus moved in, the historic landmark was undergoing a comprehensive modernization of its office and amenity spaces; Protenus, with its Baltimore roots and forward-thinking vision, complemented the future of Brown’s Wharf perfectly.

The JLL team remained a key part of the discussion even after the lease was signed. They communicated Protenus’ vision to the architects and served as a resource for Nick and his team during the build-out process. The space communicates Protenus’ collaborative nature with multiple team rooms, a large communal café area, comfortable lounges and even hammocks. The teams sit in open clusters but frequently take advantage of the shared spaces throughout the day. Their work demands connectivity and access among employees while maintaining the highest standards of data security. The technology systems in place make it possible for employees to collaborate on projects, host virtual meetings and connect with colleagues and clients.

The new space is emblematic of the Protenus culture and has become a tool for recruiting and retaining top talent. New employees feel at home in the space as soon as the elevator opens, and the views of the water and cobblestone streets outside offer a vibe that would be hard to replicate anywhere else. Employees now have countless options for lunch within walking distance and take full advantage of the nearby amenities. Together the office and neighborhood create a home away from home, a place where people are truly inspired to come together and do their best work. Frequently recognized as a “Best Place to Work” by the Baltimore Business Journal and Modern Healthcare, Protenus will continue to push boundaries in the healthcare IT space—and their office will provide the tools, resources and structure to make that all possible.

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