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Now Available: Innovators Under 35 2013 See The 2013 List »

Courtesy Shetal Shah

Shetal Shah, 32

Cushioning preemies

State University of New York, Stony Brook

As a fellow in neonatology, Shetal Shah spent hundreds of hours jouncing around in ambulances, transporting dangerously ill premature babies to New York University Medical Center's specialized neonatal unit. "You have a lot of time to think when you're sitting there," he says. "I noticed how disruptive these vibrations were to me, and I started thinking, Well, what does it mean for the infant?" Shah, now an assistant professor of pediatrics at SUNY Stony Brook, knew that preemies who have to be transferred between hospitals tend to have more problems than those who don't--problems that include bleeding in the brain and chronic lung disease. So he set about finding out what role those jolts might play. He adapted an accelerometer, attached it to the head of a neonatal mannequin, and drove around the city in a borrowed ambulance. This gave him approximate measurements of the forces a transported baby experiences every minute. To damp those forces, Shah initially used a free sample of memory foam from a mattress store but eventually developed a patent-pending transport system. Some companies have expressed interest, and the military is studying its potential to help protect soldiers with head trauma.

Credit: Bryan Christie

1) PC: Receives and analyzes data from accelerometer

2) Accelerometer: Measures and records forces experienced by baby during transport

3) Memory foam mattress: Cushions baby, minimizing force of bumps

4) Support frame: Holds incubator in place during transport

--Erika Jonietz

2007 TR35 Winners

J. Christopher Anderson

Creating tumor-killing bacteria

Kristala Jones Prather

Reverse-engineering biology

Ali Khademhosseini

Living Legos

Christopher Loose

Beating up bacteria

Neil Renninger

Hacking microbes for energy

Shetal Shah

Cushioning preemies

Abraham Stroock

Microfluidic biomaterials

Doris Tsao

Shedding light on how our brains recognize faces

Lili Yang

Engineering immunity

Mehmet Yanik

Stopping light on microchips


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