Pediatric solutions: Which 5-minute pitch will ‘ignite’ the Taking on Tomorrow audience?


Affordable home dialysis, a device to triage heart murmurs, a cardiopulmonary support enhancer, a novel technology to treat septic shock and a better system for studying neurological function. Which of these ideas will catch fire?

The audience will decide November 10 at Boston Children’s Hospital’s Ignite Talks Competition. Hosted by Chris Duffy, Host of WBUR’s You’re the Expert and presented by Deloitte, the event will close out the hospital’s Global Pediatric Innovation Summit + Awards 2015.

The five presenters are limited to five minutes and 20 slides, set to (yikes) auto-advance every 15 seconds. The audience will then choose a winner through a mobile voting app.

peritoneal dialysis-Wikimedia Commons-DP_branchement.svgSara Jandeska, MD, a pediatric nephrologist at Rush Children’s Hospital in Chicago, will pitch a low-cost solution to bring home peritoneal dialysis to children in developing countries. “Many countries lack the infrastructure needed to provide dialysis fluid to children,” Jandeska notes on her Ignite application. “In one day, an adult-sized patient may need 15 liters a day, about 35 pounds of fluid.”

stethoscope-Ragesoss-Wikimedia Commons-512px-Physical_exam_of_child_with_stethoscope_on_chestRaj Shekhar, PhD, a biomedical engineer with Children’s National Health System, Washington, DC, will present a mobile device that distinguishes benign heart murmurs from those needing specialized care. As Shekhar notes on his Ignite application, the most common benign murmur sends 1.3 million U.S. children to cardiologists each year—unnecessary referrals that cost more than $400 million in consultation fees alone.

heart-lung bypass-Blausen Medical Communications-Wikimedia Commons_0468_Heart-Lung_MachineDoug Vincent, President and CEO, Design Mentor, Inc., Pelham, NH, will pitch a device to improve outcomes in children receiving cardiopulmonary support. The device replicates the rhythm of the heartbeat, providing blood flow that more closely mimics natural conditions—which, he believes, will reduce complications when compared with existing pumps.


Brian McAlvin, MD, an intensivist in Critical Care at Boston Children’s Hospital, will outline a technology for treating septic shock that curbs the inflammatory response. As McAlvin notes, bloodstream infections trigger a systemic inflammatory cascade that causes much of the damage—and that has been difficult to control without also causing long-lasting immune suppression.

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David Roberson, a PhD candidate at the Woolf Lab at Boston Children’s Hospital, will describe his automated, image-based technology for assessing pain and neurological function in rodent models. As Roberson notes, a lack of good methods for assessing rodents has limited the advance of drugs targeting the central nervous system. That’s a big pain point in neurology.

The Ignite Talks are a new feature of the Summit, now in its third year. In contrast to the Innovation Tank, which focuses on products and market-ready ideas seeking cash awards, Ignite Talks give voice to ideas in an earlier stage of development that are seeking collaborators and mentors.

The winner will receive an Apple watch, a one-on-one mentoring session with an influential venture capitalist and a meet-and-greet with Boston Children’s Innovation Acceleration team, VCs and other stakeholders.

To get in on the action, secure a seat at the Summit now (November 9-10, Seaport World Trade Center).

(Images: Wikimedia; Blausen Medical Communications/Wikimedia; Ragesoss/Wikimedia; Lightspring/Shutterstock; Rama/Wikimedia)