Champion of premature babies who can’t verbalize their suffering

“I’ll never forget that baby. As a NICU nurse, I was accustomed to caring for preemies. She was different – full-term and appeared so beautifully healthy. Unfortunately, she suffered from a genetic disorder that rendered her skin useless and every measure of comfort hurt her. She lived a short life in excruciating pain. It was that encounter that inspired my research and decade-long quest to create a solution to assess and manage pain in newborns.

It is not easy to remain focused and single minded for more than 10 years, but there is a significant motivating force to keep me going. Prematurity is not going away, and in fact now rising in the U.S. What I’m doing needs to be done.

After initially developing an orb-type device, inspired from a polygraph to measure nervous system responses, we went back to the proverbial ‘drawing board’ to design a new way to capture facial grimacing. Our solution is a new mouth sensor that we expect to complete by August 2017, and have received funding for the first ‘human demonstration’ project or device trial in the NICU immediately after.

To help bring this and other innovations to the bedside, where they’re needed, I’m launching a startup this May to house and commercialize three of our technological developments. As a nurse scientist with a passion for technology to evolve, UCF provided an opportunity for me to learn to collaborate with computer scientists and engineers. This is something that has remained a foundation to my current research and career.”

 

UCF Affiliations

  • Alumnus, ’07PhD
  • Alumnus of the UCF’s first Nursing PhD cohort
  • Founder of the future startup, “Little Foot Innovation”