Francis Griffiths, Senior Vice President Regional Sales & Marketing for NI, Rebekah Scheuerle, Stephen Gerrard, Eric Starkloff, Executive Vice President Global Sales and Marketing for NI.
Rebekah Scheuerle has been awarded a National Instruments (NI) Engineering Impact Award for 2014, in the Biomedical category. She and her colleagues have used LabVIEW and NI DAQ hardware to verify devices that prevent HIV transmission between mother and child during breastfeeding.
She says, "According to the World Health Organisation, the global infant mortality rate is 4.6 million per year, a figure which could be reduced with increased access for infants to appropriate methods of administering existing medications. This award recognises our technical development here in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology of engineering systems for validating a novel device we are developing for delivering life-saving medications and nutrients to breastfeeding infants.
Our device, the Nipple Shield Delivery System, when worn by a mother during breastfeeding, releases medications directly into milk consumed by an infant. This device could be disposable, and contain therapeutics that do not require refrigeration, making it a hygienic method of infant drug delivery that could be especially useful in resource-limited settings (see justmilk.org).
With support from National Instruments hardware and software, we have built breastfeeding simulation apparatuses which we use to test drug delivery out of the device under physiologically relevant conditions. We are grateful for the extensive technical support we have received from National Instruments. Without this support we would not be able to simulate the breastfeeding process to test prototypes of this potentially life-saving device. It is such an honour to be awarded an NI Engineering Impact Award!
We have many collaborators to recognise including JustMilk, a non-profit organisation supporting the project; the University College London School of Pharmacy, who supports formulation development of potential medications to deliver with the device; and the University of Venda, which supports our ongoing end-user acceptability studies in Limpopo, South Africa.
We are especially grateful for the generous support of the Saving Lives at Birth partners: the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Government of Norway, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Grand Challenges Canada, and the UK Government. Additionally we are thankful for support from the Gates Cambridge Trust. Many thanks also goes to my many colleagues who have worked on this project in Cambridge over the past few years including Rob Courtney, Furgus Kulasinghe, Neil D’Souza-Mathew, Arron Rodrigues, Nigel Slater, Stephen Gerrard, Wei Yao Ma, Chris Rutt and John Gannon."