Tech Transfer eNews Blog

Northwestern U start-up wins Nature journal prize for premature baby monitoring device


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: July 22nd, 2020

A start-up from Northwestern University has received the Spinoff Prize, a new international award from the journal Nature, for its wireless sensor system that monitors premature babies.

Sibel Health’s inexpensive technology avoids the adhesive patches used in neonatal intensive care units. The patches can damage newborns’ fragile skin, and the wires that are attached can pose a barrier to physical bonding.

The start-up tested the sensors on babies in the U.S. and has since deployed the technology in hospitals in Ghana, India, Kenya and Zambia.

Sibel Health will use the roughly $34,000 prize from Nature to donate monitoring devices to University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka, Zambia.

“The judges were impressed by the potential global impact that Sibel Health’s technology has, and their clear plans to scale it up,” says Magdalena Skipper, editor-in-chief of Nature and member of the Spinoff Prize judging panel. “It is especially exciting that Sibel Health’s technology is intended to be affordable in a wide range of settings and speaks for a patient group that does not itself have a voice.”

John A. Rogers, researcher at Northwestern and co-founder of Sibel Health, comments, “This work has been a truly collaborative effort. Our team spends a lot of time listening to physicians, nurses, patients and healthcare workers in order to fully understand the broader landscape, as well as their individual needs. As engineers, we want to develop technologies that are easy-to-use, helpful and practical.”

Adds Jong Yoon Lee, former PhD student at Northwestern and co-founder of Sibel Health: “It is a privilege to receive such a prestigious award. However, we will not stop here. This is our first step in innovating healthcare. We are already taking the next steps to expand measurement capabilities and apply them to a broader population. So we are accumulating data from thousands of patients that we will use to make smarter healthcare decisions.”

Source: Northwestern Now

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