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Deborah Kilpatrick - an Update from one of ARCS Atlanta’s First Scholars

Posted on Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Deborah Kilpatrick, PhD, a member of the inaugural class of Atlanta ARCS Scholars (1992-1993), continues to use her skills, interests, and talents to address the pressing needs of our times.  Dr. Kilpatrick was last highlighted in the December 2014 Scholar Spotlight when she became CEO of Evidation Health. She is now the Co-Chief Executive Officer and Executive Chair of Evidation Health, a Silicon Valley digital health firm that, as stated on its webpage, “captures and analyzes passive, continuous behavior data to quantify health outcomes that more accurately reflect an individual's day-to-day experience.”

Dr. Kilpatrick was featured in an on-line article by Paige Goodhew entitled “Badass Women in HealthTech; Deborah Kilpatrick, CEO of Evidation Health,” (https://www.redoxengine.com/blog/badass-women-health-tech-deborah-kilpatrick-evidation-health/). The title aptly describes the focus and drive shown by Dr. Kilpatrick as she wove her academic training, personal history, talents, and interests to become a cutting-edge leader in her industry. In the article, she says, “I like to say that everything in my life stems from the fact that my father was a high school football coach in the rural south.” Her interests in science and math along with health and physical fitness led her to Georgia Tech for an undergraduate degree in engineering.  After taking a job in the aerospace industry Dr. Kilpatrick realized that to combine her interests in engineering and health care further education was needed.

Dr. Kilpatrick returned to Georgia Tech to obtain a PhD in mechanical engineering with a focus in bioengineering. It was during that time that Dr. Kilpatrick became an ARCS Scholar. “The financial support from ARCS that I had during my PhD program at Georgia Tech was essential to allowing me to focus on the research, to focus on what I was there to do and contribute. But beyond that, the emotional support I got from ARCS members during that time was priceless—knowing that people cared about my education and my research kept me motivated, even when I hit roadblocks or challenges.”

All of these experiences led Dr. Kilpatrick to conclude that “The thing I cared most about, the thing I was optimizing for in my career was not academic research---it was doing stuff that could actually impact patients in my lifetime. That’s quite hard to do as a basic scientist.” Dr. Kilpatrick’s work as Co-Chief Executive Officer and Executive Chair of Evidation Health does just that.

Dr. Kilpatrick realized that research trials provided data results that were proven in laboratory settings but did not necessarily translate into real-world settings. Her company’s search for a better way to obtain data from patients in their day-to-day life settings led to the development of a safe and secure process to obtain needed data from a large and widely diverse number of people. In a YouTube interview at The Montgomery Summit 2019 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAI2tomP3dM),  Dr. Kilpatrick explains the mission of Evidation Health, the critical need that corporations have for the health data acquired by Evidation, and the many safeguards Evidation uses with regard to those from whom they acquire data.  Patients, after giving informed consent, have data collected from their smartwatches, smartphones, and other devices. Because the research data is obtained from individuals rather than requiring the individual to come to a research site, studies done by Evidation can be conducted using data from large numbers of people with diverse backgrounds and ages, widespread geographic distribution, and most importantly, during real-world situations rather than in laboratory conditions. One Evidation study cited in an online article by Conor Hale (https://www.fiercebiotech.com/medtech/evidation-nets-45m-to-expand-from-virtual-research-into-virtual-treatment)  gathered information from individuals using glucose monitors and insulin pumps. The data from that study enabled Eli Lilly to create additional products for use by diabetics. Another study cited in the Goodhew article involved the relationship between sleep patterns and issues such as anxiety and depression.

Evidation Health with Dr. Kilpatrick as its leader is at the forefront of data being obtained to fight the crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic. “COVID-19 has shown us that accelerating real-world evidence development is critical,” said Mike Pellini, MD, Managing Partner of Section 32 and former CEO and Chairman of Foundation Medicine. “Evidation has led the way in health measurement and has proven out the potential of person-generated health data. The company is optimally positioned to lead the way into a new era of individualized healthcare.”

Dr. Kilpatrick believes that the ARCS Scholar Awards are important in today’s educational environment and says, “Science and engineering have never been more important in America, and for the world, than they are today. It’s essential that we support graduate education in these fields to ensure we efficiently and effectively tackle the challenges we face in the 21st century—from health, energy, and cybersecurity to climate change and building sustainable infrastructures across the globe. ARCS continuing focus on creating the best and brightest contributors to these fields in America is fundamental to global progress in these areas.”