Consortium of Hoosier Institutions Focused on Pediatric Medical Devices

Consortium of Hoosier Institutions Focused on Pediatric Medical Devices

Purdue University, the Indiana University School of Medicine, and medical device company Cook Medical are focusing a new alliance on clinical needs in pediatrics with a simple mantra: Infants and children are not scaled-down versions of adults.

The Crossroads Pediatric Device Consortium will focus on meeting unmet needs for pediatric patients by accelerating the development, approval, and availability of innovative medical devices for children.

Engineer George Wodicka, the Vincent P. Reilly Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Purdue, said there’s a tendency to think a technological solution for an adult medical problem can simply be scaled down to work for children.

“In reality that’s not the case,” he said. “Infants and children have different diseases and clinical problems. So, the research and development of pediatric devices is a distinct undertaking with a unique set of challenges.”

To address and overcome these challenges, the three foundational partners have launched the Crossroads Pediatric Device Consortium to more rapidly bring life-changing technologies to children in need. The consortium leverages the partners’ complementary expertise and long history of productive collaboration in the development of medical devices for adult patients. It brings to bear unmatched engineering research, pediatrics research and clinical care, and product development capabilities on the toughest of problems in pediatrics today.

Dr. Benjamin Gaston, the Billie Lou Wood Professor of Pediatrics at the IU School of Medicine and a pulmonologist at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health, said the new initiative is an exciting model that physician scientists at the school and Riley Children’s Health can leverage to improve children’s health.

“Our jobs as IU School of Medicine faculty and IU Health doctors are to come up with solutions to the problems that our patients face, so this initiative is a seamless integration,” Gaston said. “The opportunity to collaborate with other experts at the intersection between engineering and medicine enhances our creative problem solving. There’s so much we can learn from each other about our respective fields; when you get everyone at the table talking, you get to a solution faster.”

Gaston said IU School of Medicine’s close alliance with Riley Children’s Health, which provides care to patients in 19 communities across Indiana, will connect consortium researchers with state-of-the-art inpatient and outpatient facilities that supply a pathway for sharing research-based solutions with Indiana kids.

Foundational partner Cook Medical, a major medical device company headquartered in Bloomington, Indiana, will provide the alliance with expertise in such areas as product design, regulatory approval and manufacturing.

“There is a huge need and opportunity to develop more options for pediatric care. We know that less than 12% of the National Institutes of Health budget funds pediatric research, and less than 10% of all health care spending is for pediatrics,” said Blayne Roeder, senior director, corporate development at Cook Medical. “Cook has experience creating devices with pediatric indications, and we know the prestige of Purdue and IU’s research, so this is a collaboration we’re excited to join. With expertise from all three organizations, we have more resources and more bright minds to innovate new technologies for this underserved patient population.”

Historically, few technologies developed for infants and children leave the laboratory, and those that do often fail commercially due to the relatively limited market size as compared to devices for adult patients. Cook Medical will help bridge the gap between academia and industry by collaborating with Purdue and IU School of Medicine innovators throughout the entire product development life cycle to identify the most efficient path to market and accelerate the translation of their innovative ideas to the clinic.

The Crossroads Pediatric Device Consortium is expected to open doors to new creative biomedical engineering solutions that impact children’s lives. It has already attracted interest from additional clinical and company partners with complementary expertise that would increase even further the breadth of childhood diseases that could be impacted.

Wodicka said integrating the expertise of each partner will help change the product development model, creating an opportunity to take on an expanded set of clinical needs and reduce the steps and time needed to bring pediatric medical devices to doctors and hospitals.

For project decisions, investigators will weigh in with perspectives and expertise from each side to determine the most pressing clinical needs that the consortium can work to overcome collaboratively.

“There are challenges that have faced pediatricians for decades that, up until now, were almost overwhelming for us to consider,” Wodicka said. “But now we’re positioned to tackle those through our collective strength.”

These expanded efforts will build momentum for the planned institute for engineering in medicine between Purdue and IU School of Medicine that will bolster Indiana’s position as a hub for innovations in health research and patient care.

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