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Isabel Rose Fulcher


There’s a deadly gap in pregnancy care in the U.S.: Moms tend to get one medical appointment six weeks after giving birth. “But a lot of the deaths are happening in the week, two weeks postpartum, and they’re just not seeing any doctor during that time,” said Isabel Fulcher.

That’s the kind of problem Fulcher is trying to identify and solve as the vice president of data science at Delfina. The company provides clinicians with a dashboard that points out a patient’s risk factors for pregnancy complications, allowing the doctor to intervene early to reduce the likelihood of harm.

She’s always been a numbers person. As a high schooler in Evanston, Ill., she was in with a group of math nerds who called themselves the “Knights of the Unit Circle,” named after a trigonometric tool — and the fact that they often studied at a round table.

In grad school, she loved the statistical theory she was working on, but she wished the numbers had more meaning for real people. So she started doing analyses for the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts, to understand the effects of a law that required minors to either get parental consent before an abortion or go before a judge. Her work showed that the rule created delays in care — and helped change the law. 

She went on to crunch the numbers for a community health worker program in Zanzibar, Tanzania, which helped define the philosophy she brings to Delfina: “Data is not going to solve everything.” Social context is paramount. Stats can help find barriers, but it’s only by working with people that you can start fixing them. 

— Eric Boodman