Scholar alumna using data to help people take control of their health

Jeff Rice
November 27, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Wearable technology can measure the steps we take in a day, monitor our heart rate or glucose levels, even track our sleep. It’s part of a trend Penn State and Schreyer Honors College alumna Leslie Oley sees that includes people taking more active, data-driven roles in their own health.

“In today’s day and age, there’s all this data that has previously been invisible to the health care system, and we can now bring to light to understand health and chronic conditions in a whole new way,” she said. “And there’s this wave of consumers being much more involved in their health and having control over their data — which can be used to help to advance research and improve outcomes.”

Oley, who graduated with honors in mechanical engineering from the Penn State College of Engineering in 2004, is the vice president of consumer product at Evidation Health, a San Francisco-based company that uses continuous behavior data to quantify health outcomes.

She was recently on campus to accept an Outstanding Scholar Alumni award from the Schreyer Honors College and said the research experiences she received at an orthopedics lab and then the Artificial Heart Lab at Penn State were invaluable as she transitioned from a career on the hardware side of the medical device industry to more of the software side.

“I learned how to think critically here, through classes and research and project-based work,” Oley said, “and that has been irreplaceable, regardless of where I’ve worked.”

After working as a senior product manager for Boston Scientific and Voyage Medical, Oley became the director of product management at ApniCure, leading product strategy and marketing for a consumer sleep apnea therapy. When a mentor she had known since her days as a graduate student at Stanford University, Evidation CEO Deborah Kilpatrick, contacted her about a job opportunity in 2015, she jumped at the chance.

“It combined this interest that I had in the power and scalability of digital health with the opportunity to work with someone that I’d always wanted to work with and I knew would build an amazing team,” she said.

That team includes management and employees with experience in a variety of health care companies and tech companies like Google, Ask.com, Boston Scientific, and Pinterest, giving Evidation a diversity of ideas that Oley has enjoyed.

“One of the more important things I learned at Penn State is to be curious,” Oley said. “When you’re in an environment like the Bay Area or tech, there’s a level of curiosity and openness that you need to have in these merging industries to do something truly different.”

Oley met with current Schreyer Scholars during her visit to campus and encouraged them to cultivate that same type of curiosity, as well as an adaptability, as they prepare to navigate the workforce.

“Be comfortable navigating uncertainty and just know there are going to be unknowns,” she said. “Having the confidence, willingness and tenacity to know that those things will come up and that you’re trained to solve interesting problems.”

About the Schreyer Honors College

The Schreyer Honors College promotes academic excellence with integrity, the building of a global perspective, and creation of opportunities for leadership and civic engagement. Schreyer Honors Scholars total more than 2,000 students at University Park and 20 Commonwealth Campuses. They represent the top 2 percent of students at Penn State who excel academically and lead on campus.

Last Updated November 28, 2018