Love for Children and Engineering – a Spotlight with the Imlay Foundation

Georgia Tech Pediatric Technologies’ mission is to accelerate development, regulatory approval, and clinical utility of new medical technologies for pediatric patients. We connect researchers including engineers, data analysts, scientists, chemists, and others with front line pediatric clinicians to create new technologies for unmet pediatric healthcare needs. We further connect those parties to the funding, institutional, development, regulatory, and industrial resources needed to make them clinically and commercially viable.

Those funding sources include charitable organizations like the Imlay Foundation, ​​whose contributions support clinician-driven development activities specifically for pediatrics that other large, health-research organizations do not.

In 2016, The Imlay Foundation made a $5 million grant — the largest in its 25-year history — to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Georgia Tech to help fund the development of pediatric therapies.

The Imlay Innovation Fund is intended solely to support collaborative activities and pediatric innovation and discovery efforts between Georgia Tech and Children’s, focusing on practical steps that will lead to clinical impact. Projects and technologies supported by the fund focus on solving a problem that will impact care delivery and/or has the potential to positively impact child health.

Mary Ellen Imlay and Robert Smulian: photo credit The Saporta Report

“The Imlay Foundation was highly motivated to create a permanent funding mechanism, the Imlay Innovation Fund, to support the incredible knowledge of Georgia Tech’s scientists and engineers applied to finding technology solutions to critical clinical challenges faced by children at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta,” Robert D. Smulian, Executive Director of the Imlay Foundation, told us recently.

Mary Ellen Imlay is a longtime board member of Children’s. She explained that the gift was one important way to honor her husband, by creating an endowment that will support the Imlay Innovation Fund in perpetuity.

As reported in 2016 by the inimitable Maria Saporta published in the Saporta Report,

“This is a unique relationship that many cities don’t have – research with an engineering approach,” Mrs. Imlay said. “It’s more project oriented. It’s just a great partnership.”

Mrs. Imlay then recalled that after the Imlay Foundation board had unanimously approved the gift in mid-September, she turned to her fellow board member – Sig Moseley, and said, “John would really be proud of us.”

“This pediatric technology partnership [combines] the passion that Mary Ellen Imlay has for Children’s with the late John Imlay’s passion for Georgia Tech, bringing together the energy of both technology partners to make kid’s lives better,” Mr. Smulian said.

Continuing to Tackle the Unmet Clinical Needs of Children that Lack Market Viability for Industry

The Imlay Foundation Board of Directors: creditThe Imlay Foundation

The Imlay Foundation made an additional gift of $3 million in 2020 for projects implemented and supported by the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Pediatric Technology Center.

“The number and variety of clinical pediatric challenges that exist today, is always eye-opening,” he said. “We consistently admire the high levels of dedication, expertise, and innovation these pediatric technology teams bring to bear in order to find solutions to those challenges.”

Innovation in pediatric technologies that address unmet clinical needs lags behind innovation for adult populations in large part due to its relatively small market size and ROI (return on investment) prospects for industry, continuously changing anatomies of children, and limited populations for testing and clinical trials. These reasons are the essence of ‘why’ Georgia Tech Pediatric Technologies is unique in its mission, vision, and position within an institution of higher education to solely focus on pediatric innovation.

“At the end of the day, the commitment of both institutions to improving kids’ clinical outcomes is still paramount, the driver of innovation and improving quality of life,” Mr. Smulian said. “For other individuals, corporate entities, or private foundations interested in improving the lives of pediatric patients at home and across the globe, know that an investment will be thoughtfully, energetically and impactfully stewarded by both partners.”

We are grateful for the Imlays’ commitment to our mission and vision, and to Mr. Smulian for bringing us new insights that bring this spotlight to life.

About Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta

As the only freestanding pediatric healthcare system in Georgia, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta is the trusted leader in caring for kids. The not-for-profit organization’s mission is to make kids better today and healthier tomorrow through more than 60 pediatric specialties and programs, top healthcare professionals, and leading research and technology. Children’s is one of the largest pediatric clinical care providers in the country, managing more than one million patient visits annually at three hospitals, Marcus Autism Center, the Center for Advanced Pediatrics, urgent care centers and neighborhood locations. Consistently ranked among the top children’s hospitals by U.S. News & World Report, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta has impacted the lives of kids in Georgia, across the United States and around the world for more than 100 years thanks to generous support from the community.