Technology

Portland startup Gabbi raises $1M to develop breast cancer risk assessment tool

Gabbi CEO Kaitlin Christine. (Gabbi Photo)

New funding: Gabbi, a Portland-based health care startup, has raised $1 million in a pre-seed round of funding. The company is piloting a consumer-friendly breast cancer risk calculator that can propose a health action plan and link users to a network of women in the same risk population.

The tech: Gabbi’s risk calculator prompts a woman to enter information such as her age, ethnicity, and age at first period, and then provides her with an assessment of her risk of breast cancer. The tool also provides an action plan that can be taken to a healthcare provider, for instance suggesting that a woman at elevated risk receive enhanced screening, such as an MRI, or a mammogram earlier in life than she normally would be advised to. Users also will be connected with a community of women at similar risk.

Gabbi’s aim is to promote earlier detection of disease and improve health outcomes, says founder and CEO Kaitlin Christine. “When you know your risks, and when you know what your options are, then you are able to advocate for yourself and get the care you need,” she said.

Gabbi has piloted its technology with a national insurance company, and aims to execute additional pilot runs in the coming year. The insurance company partnership also enabled access to data to help build and test the risk assessment model, which leverages a proprietary deep learning network. The company will market the product to insurance companies, which can provide the tool to their customers.

Competitors: CRA Health, recently acquired by Volpara Health, also provides breast cancer risk assessment, but is more clinician-focused and partners with imaging clinics.

In addition, research institutions have developed user-friendly risk calculators. The U.S. National Cancer Institute provides a Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool and the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Victoria, Australia, has built iPrevent, which also provides personalized breast cancer screening and prevention information.

Gabbi is currently preparing a scientific publication to showcase its tool, which Christine says outperforms existing models and assesses a wider range of factors, including social determinants of health such as place of birth, and better accounts for ethnicity.

The team: Christine has a background in business strategy and development, including at the genetic testing company Myriad Genetics. Gabbi is named after her Christine’s mother, Lise Gabrielle Clark, who died from breast cancer. Christine, like her mother, carries a mutation in the breast cancer gene BRCA1 that puts her at very high risk for breast cancer and led to a harrowing medical experience, culminating in a prophylactic double mastectomy at age 24. Her personal experience has moved her to create a tool that enables women to better understand their own risk and health options.

Gabbi’s risk model was developed with Gabbi advisors with a background in artificial intelligence and data science: Ahmer Inam, chief artificial intelligence officer at Pactera EDGE, a Redmond, Wash.-based technology and consulting services company, and James Chung, Assistant Director of Data Science at Cambia Health Solutions.

Medical advisors are Mina Zakhary at La Jolla, California-based Scripps Clinic Medical Group Inc, Amy Cooper at St. Luke’s Cancer Institute in Boise, and Mindy Goldman, who directs the UCSF Gynecology Center for Cancer Survivors and At-Risk women at University of California, San Francisco.

Investors: Backers include WR Hambrecht + Co, Plug and Play Tech Center, StartUp Health, and OzoneX Ventures, and individual angel investors David Kidder, CEO of the information services company Bionic, and Anne Wojcicki, co-founder of 23andMe.

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