Cooler Heads Partners with Aspen to Make Advancements in Chemotherapy

About 40% of Americans will be diagnosed with cancer at some point during their lives. Of those who need chemotherapy, about 8% will decline it to avoid hair loss, a side effect of the treatment known as Alopecia. With the help of Aspen Systems’ custom liquid chilling, Kate Dilligan and her company, Cooler Heads, are decreasing reluctance to chemotherapy treatment by providing a scalp cooling solution to alopecia, potentially saving lives.

Using active cooling technology, Cooler Heads provides customers with head caps that chill patients’ scalps to 65°F during treatment, effectively reducing cellular activity and causing vasoconstriction that limits chemotherapy’s killing effects on hair follicles.

We spoke to Kate Dilligan, CEO, and founder of Cooler Heads, to find out how Aspen Systems is helping further her noble mission: “Chemotherapy is terrible but saying no to it is very difficult: you risk losing your life.” “I know that avoiding hair loss from the treatment is not all about beauty. Fundamentally, it’s about having agency over your privacy and identity. It’s about controlling the narrative and being able to choose who knows that you’re sick. With the help of Aspen Systems, we provide our customers with that kind of control,” says Kate.

She adds, “We’re not the first to address this issue, but we are the first company to offer an FDA-approved solution that can be administered by the customers themselves, with the portability to do it from anywhere.”

Older solutions overlooked active cooling and required nurses to use tens of pounds of dry ice to constantly cool and replace head caps once they warmed during infusion sessions, making the service inconvenient and extremely expensive for the customer. “To allow portability, product footprint was key, so we wanted a small and reliable system that could also run off battery power for a very long time,” Kate says, “After trialing with a few suppliers, we partnered with Aspen for their greater ability to provide powerful and reliable cooling capabilities in such a small and optimized system.”

A custom-made liquid chiller module weighing less than seven pounds was chosen for its shoe-box size and superior power-draw efficiency over thermoelectric chillers, which consume three times more energy. This allowed for convenience and longer usage times per charge. The ruggedness of Aspen’s chiller met Cooler Heads’ goal of allowing the products to be used anywhere – even on the car ride home.

“We learned quickly into development that there is no standard in the power output for cars, and our previous chiller modules couldn’t handle the different electrical outputs,” Kate mentions, “Beyond that, about a third of our chillers weren’t meeting their specifications in general, and our supplier refused to take responsibility. That’s when we realized we would need a more dependable and reliable partner like Aspen Systems.”

While not included in the specifications, Kate has found Aspen’s chillers to be sturdy enough to easily handle the power outputs of different car models. She credits Aspen’s high quality to the company’s dedicated design team and manufacturing technicians. “We feel like we have a superior customer support with Aspen than with our previous partners. Aspen’s custom design team are very responsive to our requirements and are willing to adjust the product expediently,” Kate says.

“We have been very pleased with Aspen Systems’ products and service – a 10/10 partnership which has allowed us to carry out our mission to save lives.” -Kate Dilligan.

Cooler Heads was founded in 2018 by Kate Dilligan, a tech entrepreneur and breast cancer survivor, to protect the dignity, privacy, and identity of cancer patients. After Kate was diagnosed with breast cancer, she spent $8,000 on traditional cold cap therapy. After talking with countless cancer patients frustrated by the high cost, poor fit, and difficult use of existing methods, Kate was determined to engineer a better way.


If you or a loved one are navigating the daunting journey that is chemotherapy and would like to learn more about Cooler Heads, their Amma device, or any other resources for cancer patients, please do not hesitate to visit the Cooler Heads website or reach out to us to get you in touch with Kate and her team.

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