“We agreed there was no reason this couldn't be done, especially with a strong engineering team in place,” Stone said. The core team soon grew to include Chan, a biomedical engineer, Jordan Sabin (’16), a mechanical engineer, and Shirin Ahmed (’12) with the Global Health Leadership Institute (GHLI). The company has since expanded to include student members Maddie Knapp ‘17 and Medha Vyavahare ‘17, Erik Tharp ’16, and David Wang ‘18.
GHLI provided support to PremieBreathe and facilitated a relationship with Ayder Referral Hospital in Ethiopia. The venture advanced with a summer fellowship in the Center for Engineering Innovation and Design(CEID) and Yale Entrepreneurial Institute (YEI) provided resources and mentorship.
When Chan and Sabin visited Ethiopia in 2015, they saw doctors using devices cobbled together with old tubing and soda cans to deliver oxygen to vulnerable infants. Besides being too costly for many of these healthcare facilities, existing respirators require reliable electricity, sterile water, compressed oxygen, and other resources scarce at hospitals in the region.
With these economic and environmental constraints in mind, the team spent two years refining the device and getting feedback from partners in Ethiopia and their mentors at Yale. The result is a device expected to retail for approximately one-fifth the cost of commercially available equivalents. It also operates independent of significant clinical infrastructure. "