The recent announcement of $100 million in funding for women’s health research, made by First Lady Jill Biden at the Advanced Research Agency for Health (ARPA-H) event, marks a significant milestone in the advancement of women’s healthcare. Among the attendees when the announcement was made was Alicia Chong Rodriguez, Founder and CEO of Bloomer Tech, a healthcare technology company dedicated to cardiovascular research and improving patient care through personalized diagnostics for women.

Bloomer Tech‘s innovative approach lies in the development of the Bloomer Bra, a novel garment embedded with medical-grade sensors. These sensors seamlessly track data related to women’s heart health, lung function, hormonal fluctuations, and metabolism. By integrating advanced technology into everyday apparel, Bloomer Tech aims to provide women with actionable insights into their cardiovascular well-being, addressing a critical gap in healthcare research and diagnostics.

As we navigate this moment in women’s health innovation, we asked Chong Rodriguez to shares her insights on the significance of government funding for women’s health breakthroughs and the role of Bloomer Tech in advancing cardiovascular research and patient care.

Could you start by giving us an overview of Bloomer Tech and the inspiration behind the innovative Bloomer Bra? How does it integrate medical-grade sensors into an everyday garment, and what types of data does it track?

I was part of MITs computational cardiovascular research group and had access to landmark clinical trial data used for clinical decision making. We knew that it is harder to recognize, diagnose, and treat women with heart disease, but we were disheartened to see that 75% data came from men. 

Seeing this, my co-founders and I were inspired to find an easy way to acquire huge amounts of physiological data from women so that artificial intelligence doesn’t fall short. We created medical-grade textile sensors that integrate seamlessly with everyday garments such as the bra and acquire >1GB of physiological data per day all around her torso, her heart, her lungs and even signals related to her hormones and her metabolism. 

We all shared personal stories that are sadly very common since heart disease and stroke are the leading cause of death and disability for women. My grandma died from a heart attack when I was 13 years old. My cofounder, Monica, lost her 44-year old mom to a stroke when she was only 12. My other cofounder, Aceil, has very close relatives that have struggled with the existing healthcare system. 

You recently attended the invite-only ARPA-H event where First Lady Jill Biden announced $100 million in funding for women’s health research. Can you share your experience at the event and the significance of this announcement for Bloomer Tech?

It was an amazing day that will mark history. It was inspiring to be surrounded by experts and leaders in diverse areas of women’s health, including researchers, industry experts, entrepreneurs, investors, and policy makers. This entire ecosystem is so ready to make a healthier, more equitable tomorrow where women have access to the healthcare they deserve. 

For Bloomer Tech, it’s a dream come true to see this ecosystem being propelled. I can’t wait for the impact it will have, and I’m grateful to be part of this moment in time.

Why is government funding crucial for advancing women’s health breakthroughs, and how do you see the recent $100 million commitment impacting the sector?

Due to disparities in healthcare for women, the field is ripe for breakthroughs. Change needs to happen at a faster pace, and government funding can be a catalyst that enables bold ideas and new technologies to meet the needs of women to come to life faster. 

Women’s health, particularly in areas like cardiovascular research, has historically been underfunded and under-researched. From your perspective, what are the key challenges that innovations like the Bloomer Bra aim to address? How does Bloomer Tech contribute to accelerating cardiovascular research specifically for women?

The Bloomer Bra represents an innovative solution to address the longstanding challenges in women’s health, particularly in the realm of cardiovascular research. One key challenge has been the historical underfunding and under-researching of women-specific health issues, leading to a significant gap in understanding and addressing cardiovascular conditions in women. The Bloomer Bra, through its technological advancements, seeks to provide a tailored and comprehensive approach to women’s cardiovascular health. By incorporating advanced monitoring and data collection capabilities directly into the bra, Bloomer Tech enables continuous and unobtrusive tracking of vital health metrics. This not only empowers women to take a proactive role in their cardiovascular well-being but also generates a wealth of real-time data that can contribute to a more accurate understanding of women’s heart health. Bloomer Tech aims to bridge the existing gaps in knowledge and contribute significantly to the advancement of women’s cardiovascular health by providing a sophisticated and user-friendly tool for monitoring and research.

Looking ahead, what are the next steps for Bloomer Tech? Are there any new projects or innovations we can anticipate?

Generating digital biomarkers for women’s health is very exciting to us. Unlike traditional biomarkers like blood work, blood pressure, weight, urine, lipid panels, etc. that take a snapshot at a set time, digital markers work more like a video and use data over time to explain, influence, and even predict health outcomes. We look forward to enabling women to have this data when they need it the most – and not after they’ve had the fortune of surviving an episode. We truly believe we can transform the way we listen to our bodies and anticipate normal and abnormal changes for a better quality of life.

What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs looking to innovate in the women’s health space, especially in light of new research funding opportunities?

As a women’s health tech entrepreneur, I see this as a monumental time for women’s healthcare. My advice to other innovators would be to passionately identify a problem that resonates with you on a personal level. Choose an issue that you would wholeheartedly dedicate your time and energy to. By focusing on a problem that truly motivates you, you’ll be even more committed to finding effective solutions.  

On a personal note, what has been the most rewarding aspect of your work with Bloomer Tech? How do you stay inspired and motivated in the face of challenges?

I’m so fortunate to be surrounded by people that are as passionate about what we are working on as I am. We all have diverse backgrounds and skills and are building something big and meaningful. It’s the knowledge of what we can accomplish that propels me forward. 

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