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First Place for Medoff-Cooper’s Neoneur

Neoneur founders recently took the top prize in the The Association for Women in Science-Central Jersey Chapter’s (AWIS-CJC) 2019 Women in STEM Entrepreneurship Challenge

Neoneur provides a means to measure neurological development using oral feeding-based biomarkers, improving clinical care for premature and at-risk infants who struggle to orally feed successfully, and a means to detect potential developmental delays.   Lack of oral feeding success is the leading cause for delay of discharge from the neonatal intensive care units for premature and surgical infants.

Neoneur’s founders are Penn Nursing’s Barbara Medoff-Cooper, PhD, RN, FAAN, Professor Emerita, and her business partner, Caroline Hoedemaker, PE, MBA. Medoff-Cooper first developed the device with Penn Engineering’s Jay Zemel, PhD, and patented it in 2013. It assesses both newborn neurological development and oral feeding capability measuring the physical characteristics an infant needs to coordinate oral feeding without respiratory distress: sucking, swallowing, and breathing. 

Oral feeding of the neonate is a central nervous system, instinctive required capability. When infants are born early, with delays, or genetic conditions, their brains have not developed adequately to orally feed safely.  Currently there are tools to measure other critical survival skills: thermo-regulation, cardiovascular and respiratory function, but there is no means to measure the neurological readiness for oral feeding.  Neoneur measures if the needed skills are present to enable the infant to feed successfully without risk of respiratory distress.  These same developmental measurements may lead to early diagnostics of developmental delays such as Autism. 

The Neoneur is a safe, easy to use, affordable device that is envisioned for use first in the hospital, and longer term to transition with the infant to the home.  It measures natural rhythmic biomarkers that signal brain maturation, such that the infant can safely be discharged from the hospital and orally feed in the home setting.

The Women in STEM Entrepreneurship Challenge is designed to encourage women who have embraced or plan to lead entrepreneurial ventures involving a STEM component. Neoneur was honored with its first-place award during a March 25th ceremony at the New Jersey State House.