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Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology Receives Saving Lives at Birth Seed Grant

Award from the United States Agency for International Development, an organisation co-founded by Department PhD Student Stephen Gerrard has received a $250,000 award from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for the development of its infant drug and nutrient delivery device for use in low resource settings. The grant is for the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology and partners at University College London School of Pharmacy led by Dr. Catherine Tuleu to develop the device to a clinical standard.

The JustMilk system is a low cost discrete device that would be worn by a mother during feeding and as milk passes through the device delivers the agent to the infant. Many of the 3 million infant deaths that occur each year in the 1st month after birth could be prevented with access to appropriate forms of drugs, but existing methods have several problems that have prevented widespread access. For example, liquid formulations in a syrup often have refrigeration requirements, while tablets have to be dissolved in potable water in a sterile container. The JustMilk system empowers a mother to accurately and in a natural setting administer drugs or nutrients to her baby while avoiding these issues.

The Saving Lives at Birth competition host by USAID "calls on the brightest minds across the globe to identify and scale up transformative prevention and treatment approaches for pregnant women and newborns around the time of birth." It is into its third year of grant calls with over 1500 applications and around 50 grants awarded so far.

Image:  JustMilk Co-Founders Stephen Gerrard (Dept. of Chem Eng) and Geoff Galgon (University of California, Irvine) at the USAID Saving Lives at Birth Finalist Competition in Washington DC

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