Ann Arbor startup gets federal grant for lactation training aids

ANN ARBOR—The Ann Arbor startup LiquidGoldConcept announced it has been awarded an additional $55,000 in National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding in support of its Lactation Simulation Models (LSM) and Newborn Oral Assessment and Latch Simulators (NORALSim).

The new grant is in addition to $250,000 in NIH support the company received in July 2020 for its groundbreaking breastfeeding training technology.

The $55,000 grant is through the National Centers for Clinical and Translational Science (NCATS). NCATS works with researchers, the public and other stakeholder groups to design new approaches and technologies that ultimately will deliver more treatments to more people more quickly.

LiquidGoldConcept was awarded the current grant to support the ongoing commercialization efforts for its NORALSim products. NORALSim is a realistic newborn simulator that latches and suckles at the breast of the LiquidGoldConcept Lactation Simulation Model. The two simulators work together to provide healthcare professionals and parents with realistic breastfeeding training tools.

“This NIH grant supports our NORALSim product research, which is part of our suite of best-in-class solutions to provide all health professionals, future clinical lactation specialists, and expecting parents with a way to practice hands-on breastfeeding techniques,” said LiquidGoldConcept COO Sam Chuisano. “We are eager to continue learning about how our simulation products can remove the training and access bottlenecks for lactation support professionals.”

Three LiquidGoldConcept executive team members will lead the research, including Chuisano, who is the principal researcher for the grant, Chief Sales Officer Kelly Smith, and Director of Marketing and Brand Abigail Worthington. Each will complete an eight-week training course with NIH, during which they will conduct more than 100 interviews with potential and future customers of LiquidGoldConcept products to help them gain valuable insight into their product-market fit.

“We are grateful the NIH sees value in moving our products to a broader marketplace quickly to improve breastfeeding and health outcomes for parents and babies in this country through greater access to breastfeeding support,” Chuisano said.

For more information about LiquidGoldConcept, NORALSim and the Lactation Simulation Models, as well as other high-impact breastfeeding technology solutions the company is developing with the support of NIH and other organizations, visit https://liquidgoldconcept.com/.

LiquidGoldConcept was founded in 2014 by four University of Michigan students, including Anna Sadovnikova, CEO, and Jeff Plott, CTO. Today, Sadovnikova is an MD and PhD candidate at University of California, Davis in mammary gland biology and breastfeeding medicine. Plott is a mechanical engineer and researcher in translational sciences at the University of Michigan. The idea for LiquidGoldConcept was borne out of Sadovnikova’s 2014 summer research program in Brazil, where she had an opportunity to work with and observe lactation practices with a diverse group of mothers and healthcare providers in the country’s human donor milk banks and hospitals. LiquidGoldConcept’s ongoing work is centered on Sadovnikova and her team’s goal to significantly advance breastfeeding education and lactation support in the United States.

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