Rising To Meet the Need for Pediatric Device Innovation

David Conrad, MD 
University of California, San Francisco - with his device, Beacon: A wireless tracheostomy alarm and respiratory monitoring system.
David Conrad, MD University of California, San Francisco – with his device, Beacon: A wireless tracheostomy alarm and respiratory monitoring system.

The second annual Pediatric Innovation Showcase brought together pediatric experts and innovators to highlight progress in pediatric device development.

On March 29, professionals in pediatric medicine and innovators gathered to experience and discuss emerging health care technologies, see prototypes in development, and network with thought leaders and researchers who are passionate about bringing new advances to the field. A highlight from the second annual Pediatric Innovation Showcase conference was the Pediatric Device Accelerator Pitch Competition, with Shark Tank–style presentations by 13 finalists from a total of 74 applicants who pitched their pediatric device ideas—in various stages of development—to a panel of judges.

The conference covered wide ground, including engaging patients with social media, better hospital design, commercialization of scientific innovations, the promises of gene therapy, and several medical uses of virtual reality.

Lloyd Minor, MD, dean of the School of Medicine, welcomed participants by highlighting Stanford’s culture of collaboration. For example, nearly a third of Stanford engineering faculty are currently conducting research with medical applications. “It’s because that’s where the really interesting problems are today,” Minor said.

At the same time, innovation in pediatric medical devices lags behind those for adults, he noted. Each year, the FDA approves far fewer devices for children than for adults. In 2018, as part of a congressional-mandated effort to stimulate the development of pediatric devices, the FDA awarded a $6.7M grant to James Wall, MD, of Stanford University School of Medicine and Michael Harrison, MD, of University of California, San Francisco to establish the UCSF-Stanford Pediatric Device Consortium (PDC).

“The consortium’s mission to ensure that the latest technologies are available to all—in this case our youngest patients—mirrors that of Stanford Medicine’s precision health vision,” said Minor.

The PDC hosted the Pediatric Device Accelerator Pitch Competition, in which each finalist had the chance to win up to $50,000 in seed funding, prototyping support, and customized advising. The judges recognized the startups that showcased breakthroughs that could help accelerate the next generation of pediatric medical devices. Stanford and UCSF awarded over $300,000 across 11 of the finalists. See our press release for details on the winners.

“For Stanford Children’s Health, innovation is central to delivering extraordinary care, serving our academic mission, and fueling breakthrough discoveries,” said Paul King, president and CEO of Stanford Children’s Health and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford. “Pediatric medicine at its core is about optimism – it’s about the future.”


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