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Inventing medical devices for children


Michael Harrison:
I spent all my career developing fetal surgery and in doing that we had to develop lots and lots of tools and devices and gadgets and all that stuff because it was all technical.  Our team became efficient at it, that is, having bright young people work in the lab and then help us with the clinical applications.  So we’d make the devices and we’d use them in fetal surgery or neonatal surgery.  Now, we had been trying to attract and work with the excellent Berkeley bioengineers, but we never connected.  And the reason we didn't connect is we work on different levels. They work on very fancy nanotechnology, for instance, and we work on blood and guts.  And we could never make it match.  I came and immediately got Shuvo who I had known a little bit before and we had started to work a little bit already.  Then we said let’s turn this away from the usual medical stuff and turn it toward engineering.

Shuvo Roy: As a person with an engineering background, I help to define what is possible in the engineering toolkit and help prioritize the projects that will be undertaken in the consortium.  The Pediatric Device Consortium brings together engineers, scientists and physicians, as well as entrepreneurs and other interested parties nationwide to focus on devices for children’s health.

Often what happens in the industry is that you design the device for adults and just make a smaller version of it and hope it work in a child.  So, some folks in Congress recognized this and they passed a law that said we want to encourage pediatric device development and we’re going to set aside a little bit of money to do that.

So, what we’ve done here is a device that is used to correct chest deformation in children.  To treat these kids was to implant a magnet after one surgery, close the chest up and then wear a brace with an external magnet that pulls the internal magnet and thereby corrects the chest deformation.  Data is collected, that data is then transmitted to the physician through a Bluetooth. When the trial is complete of this device, we can share the data with the FDA.

Michael Harrison: When we moved into this piece of it, we wanted it to be real translational science and to push it all the way from the idea to the patient and the commercialization.  We have the expertise in-house and so, people come and if it’s an interesting idea, then one of the young engineers sitting there says, “Oh, I’ll work on it awhile”. 


Shuvo Roy: We’ve got a great team of physicians across campus that are so collegial and are willing to share, along with the students and post-docs and faculty that want to work on important problems for children's health.  We are really called ‘The D’Vice Squad’. We are the Pediatric Device Consortium.