The Southwest Pediatric Device Consortium (SWPDC), anchored at Texas Children’s Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine, recently received a prestigious P50 grant from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The five-year, $6.75 million grant will begin on September 1 and will allow SWPDC to leverage ongoing activities to expand and accelerate the development of much-needed pediatric medical devices. The five principal investigators include Drs. Chester Koh and Henri Justino of Texas Children’s and Baylor, Dr. Balakrishna Haridas of Texas A&M University, Dr. Maria Oden of Rice University, and Dr. Michael Heffernan of Fannin Innovation Studio.
SWPDC supports pediatric device innovators with the goal of addressing the shortage of needed novel medical devices for children, a public health problem that has been acknowledged by the FDA.
“A great need currently exists for medical devices designed specifically for children,” said Koh, founder of SWPDC and lead principal investigator, as well as a pediatric urologist at Texas Children’s and professor of urology, pediatrics and Ob/Gyn at Baylor. “Pediatric device development is challenging, but with this support from the FDA, our consortium will continue to assist pediatric device innovators along all stages of development with the goal of improving our care of pediatric patients.”
The past decade has been a period of growth in adult medical device innovation. Advances in devices for children, however, have lagged far behind. Why the disparity? Economics are partially to blame. The market for pediatric devices is smaller, and thus the return on investment lower. Then there are the clinical and regulatory challenges. Pediatric device projects may need an extended life cycle before they can be approved and exposed to the external market. As a result, pediatric surgeons and pediatricians have had to make do with what’s available, often using retooled adult medical devices, and without adequate testing in children.
“Significant technical (design and manufacturing), preclinical testing, clinical and regulatory testing challenges exist in the field of pediatric devices,” said Haridas, co-founder and co-PI of SWPDC (lead PI at Texas A&M) and professor of practice in biomedical engineering at Texas A&M. “This FDA-funded SWPDC is uniquely positioned to address these challenges across the pediatric device development and clinical translational cycle to deliver significant advances in treatments tailored for pediatric patients.”
Support from the P50 grant will enable SWPDC to provide services in several areas: unmet needs assessment, prototype development, product and technology acceleration services, and business acceleration services. Consortium members will evaluate and support projects, as well as advise innovators throughout the total product life cycle. Based on individual project needs, the consortium will direct investigators to specific resources, collaborators and industry experts, and will coordinate the services offered by its member programs to identify, evaluate and assist pediatric device projects.
SWPDC includes clinical, scientific/engineering, investment, regulatory and academic partners in the Texas Medical Center, the Greater Houston area and the southwestern U.S. Primary partners include Texas A&M University, Rice University, University of Houston and Fannin Innovation Studio, and includes others such as Biotex Inc., Children’s Hospital of San Antonio, Children’s Health in Dallas and Phoenix Children’s Hospital, with additional future sites. SWPDC was selected as one of five national consortia that are addressing the shortage of pediatric devices.
To learn more about the Southwest Pediatric Device Consortium, visit swpdc.org.