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From the President’s Desk: Leslie Petter

Posted on Tuesday, October 12, 2021

The vision of ARCS Atlanta is “Funding STEM scholars who will change the world.”  It is awesome in its power and brevity.  The power of our vision comes from the confidence that our scholars will change the world.  How is it that we have this unwavering confidence?  We have it because we see it – every day. 

Take Dr. Deborah Kilpatrick, who was one of our first ARCS Atlanta scholars in 1992. She is CEO of Evidation Health and a pioneer in the medical technology field.  Her company addressed the need to get health data from patients in real-life conditions, rather than laboratory settings.  Evidation Health enables patients to have their health data collected from their smartwatches, smartphones, and other devices.  This allows the collection of health 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. The over 1 trillion data points which Evidation Health takes in annually provide vital information for researching new and future treatments.  Evidation Health is even working on detecting early symptoms of COVID-19 through their collection of digital health data. Deborah Kilpatrick is, indeed, changing our world.

Dr. Michael Davis was an ARCS Atlanta scholar in 2001, while he was completing his PhD in molecular and systems pharmacology at Emory University.  Today, he is one of the top biomedical engineers in the world.  Every ARCS member who witnessed the 3-D bioprinting in Dr. Davis’ lab was aware of the profound effect his research would have.  Aortic valve disease is one of the most common congenital heart defects in children.  Artificial valves come at a fixed size and are incapable of growth, thus requiring multiple surgeries as a child grows. Dr. Davis’ goal is to create a tissue-engineered heart valve that is capable of growth and remodeling within a growing child. To do this, he uses stem cells to generate patient-specific valve cells.  He engineers cell-laden biomaterials to be 3D printed using 3D models generated from a patient’s CT, thus creating a 3D tissue-engineered heart valve that will grow and repair in a child.  Dr. Davis’ lab is also developing a heart patch, composed of cardiac matrix material and pediatric stem cells, to treat pediatric heart failure.  The patch will allow for treatment that is personalized to each child.  Michael Davis’ research will change the world for our children.  He will quite literally change our future.

And then there is Dr. Stacey Dixon, our ARCS Atlanta scholar from 1997-2000, who was nominated by President Biden and sworn in last month as Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence.  Since the time she was an ARCS scholar, Stacey Dixon has had a meteoric rise through the ranks of the intelligence community.  She served as the Director of the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) which invests in high-risk, high-payoff research programs to tackle some of the most difficult challenges in the Intelligence Community.  Most recently, she was Deputy Director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.  She is an expert in intelligence technology and her selection as Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence reflects the Biden administration’s interest in prioritizing technological innovation in intelligence gathering.  Dr. Dixon is the highest-ranking Black woman in the Intelligence Community and is a brilliant example of our ARCS commitment to diversity.  Stacey Dixon’s research and accomplishments have changed the world.

These are just three examples of ARCS Atlanta scholars who are changing the world.  There are many more! 

Join us on Thursday, November 18th from 8:30 - 9:00 AM for our virtual Scholar Awards Celebration. Be inspired by the brilliance and dreams of our scholars, the accomplishments and gratitude of our scholar alums, the vision and generosity of our donors, and the passion and commitment of our members.  Meet our 2021-2022 ARCS Atlanta scholars and witness the realization of our ARCS Atlanta vision of funding STEM Scholars who will change the world!

I look forward to being with you as we “rise and shine” with ARCS Atlanta.