Peter Kimball ’03, a self-identified computer geek with one master’s degree in security informatics and another in computer science, was working at his brother-in-law’s algorithmic equities trading firm when Kimball’s five-year-old nephew was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.
That would galvanize the family and change the direction of Kimball’s career.
With Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas is unable to produce the insulin that regulates glucose and enables cells to produce energy. Intimately involved with managing his son’s blood glucose level, Kimball’s brother-in-law, Bryan Mazlish, was surprised by the primitive state of dosing technology and decided there had to be a better way. Creating one became a family mission, led by Mazlish and that included his wife (Kimball’s sister), who is a physician with years of experience managing her own diabetes; Kimball’s father, who has a doctorate in electrical engineering; and Kimball himself.
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Through trial, innovation, and reverse engineering they came up with a better, easier way for Mazlish and his wife to monitor their son’s blood sugar throughout the night. Monitoring is a critically important task that had required them to go to their son every couple of hours. That changed — Mazlish and his family crew developed a continuous glucose monitor that worked remotely.
Mazlish went on to co-found Bigfoot Biomedical, a Silicon Valley company that is developing what has been described as a next-generation automated dosing system, and Kimball is part of the Bigfoot staff.
This year the company expects to market its first system that includes a smart insulin pen cap that is designed to make dosing easier. The cap connects with a continuous glucose monitor worn on the arm, and the monitor sends glucose information to the cap in real time for automatic and precise dosing.
Kimball is a jack-of-all-trades at Bigfoot. “I jump around quite a bit, and I help wherever I can to keep things, keep development, moving forward,” Kimball said, tracing his flexibility back to his liberal arts education. He majored in computer science and art.
He’s been a software developer, a product security engineer, and now he’s a firmware developer. Firmware is software that runs on an embedded device, for instance the smart pen cap.
When he heads into work, Kimball is always motivated. Watching his sister, then his nephew, manage diabetes, he grew to understand the burdensome and relentless nature of the disease.
“It doesn't let up. You have to manage it every day. There's no remission from this; this is not something that comes in waves,” he said. “I know we can make, we can create, technology that makes this less burdensome and simpler for those affected by diabetes. And that is a really good driving force.”