FDA grants $7.5M to innovative pediatric medical device consortium

Rice is a member of the Southwest National Pediatric Device Innovation Consortium led by BCM and Texas Children’s Hospital.

Baby's hand holding adult's finger

The Southwest National Pediatric Device Innovation Consortium, of which Rice University is a member, has received a five-year, $7.4-million grant from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to continue developing innovative pediatric medical devices.

“Doctors often use devices not designed for kids because they don’t have the right-sized devices. This grant will permit work to continue at all the participating institutions on designing devices specifically for children,” said Matthew Wettergreen, associate teaching professor of bioengineering, director of the Global Medical Innovation (GMI) program and principal investigator for Rice’s portion of the FDA grant.

Led by Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital, the consortium includes scientists and engineers from Rice, Texas A&M University, the University of Houston and the University of Minnesota.

The consortium was established in 2018 with $6.75 million in funding from the FDA to address the pediatric device development and innovation deficit. Following five years of substantial outcomes, the FDA has officially renewed the SWPDC for another five years with the additional $7.4 million.

It has since added some 220 pediatric device projects in various stages of development to its portfolio, and raised more than $218 million in subsequent funding. It’s one of five consortia in the FDA’s Pediatric Device Consortia, with others in Pennsylvania, Washington D.C., the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles.

“Physicians are often forced to use adult devices off-label in children,” said Achu Byju, a research engineer in biomedical engineering at Texas A&M. “Often, the adult devices are found to be inadequate. The SWPDC serves to accelerate the development of more pediatric medical devices through engineering and business support to innovators.”

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