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Pediatric Device Innovation Consortium Addresses Technology Gap

March 4, 2020

By Jodi Fenlon Rebuffoni

Medical devices available for children are approximately a decade behind those available in the adult market. This innovation gap results in families and health care providers frequently improvising or making due with inadequate products across the spectrum of healthcare from intensive care to home health. An example of this disparity is the external pump ventricular assist device available for children as opposed to the internal and mobile ventricular assist devices available to adults.

As a pediatric ICU physician, Gwen Fischer, MD, FAAP, witnessed this technology gap first-hand. Drawing from her clinical experience, as well as knowledge gained through her fellowship in the Earl. E. Bakken Medical Device Innovation Fellows Program at the University of Minnesota (UMN), she formed the Pediatric Device Innovation Consortium (PDIC). The PDIC is dedicated to understanding and overcoming the complex barriers to pediatric medical innovation.

The PDIC program at the UMN includes three primary components:

An advisory board comprising industry and academic medical device experts to provide guidance to innovators of pediatric health technology

Funding to support the creation of new pediatric health innovations being developed at the University of Minnesota, and in collaborations between the UMN and industry, community or other academic partners. The PDIC funding programs were developed through a strategic partnership with the Office of Discovery and Translation, part of the University of Minnesota’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute.

A unique program that solicits descriptions of unmet needs and challenges caring for children’s health needs directly from patients, parents and other care providers in the community. This program is intended to help the PDIC better understand important unmet needs in pediatric health. Unmet needs are evaluated for innovation opportunities, and in certain cases, funding is dedicated to advancing a new solution.

Goals of the PDIC Program

  • Identify unmet pediatric medical needs and opportunities for innovation; including unique challenges of care in low-resource settings
  • Support the development of pioneering medical solutions that improve care for the pediatric population
  • Form innovative partnerships that advance pediatric device development

The PDIC has awarded more than $500,000 in project funding to advance 20+ unique pediatric innovations and licensed two technologies to UMN start-up companies. Nearly one-third of PDIC-supported projects include collaborations between the UMN and industry or non-profit organizations.

Looking forward, the PDIC aims to raise awareness of the work being done at the UMN to close the innovation gap in child health. Through outreach, collaborations and strategic thinking the PDIC hopes to increase the reach and impact of its successful programs toward a better future for children. The PDIC is interested to hear from pediatricians about needs and challenges their patients have faced that could potentially be improved through innovation of new medical solutions, and medical device solutions pediatricians may be developing.

Learn more at www.thepdic.org.

Inquiries can be directed to contact@thepdic.org.

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