UIC Nursing faculty member wins seed money for wound drain device

Peggi White, MS ’89, UIC Nursing-Urbana simulation lab coordinator, and her son, Beau Barber, pose for a photo after running a 5K together, one year after Barber’s surgery. Both medaled in their age divisions.

By Deborah Ziff Soriano

After her son’s surgery to remove a golf ball-sized tumor from under his tongue, Peggi White, MS ’89, was inspired to develop a better wound drain.

White’s oldest son, Beau Barber, had a Jackson-Pratt drain inserted in his neck to help remove excess fluid.

Standard practice called for pinning a bulb to his hospital gown, connected to the insertion point with a tube. But Barber noticed whenever his gown moved — a frequent occurrence — it pulled at the drain and caused strain on the wound.

“Mom, there has to be a better system for this,” White recalls her son saying.

White agreed. Three years later, the UIC College of Nursing at Peoria graduate has a provisional patent for a wound drain holder. She also recently won a grant through the 2021 Chancellor’s Translational Research Initiative to advance her research toward commercialization.

“This is just the type of creative thinking about a clinical problem that nurses are particularly well-prepared to address,” said UIC Nursing Dean Terri Weaver. “Peggi took a common clinical problem and worked to develop a very unique solution.”

A way forward

Barber’s tumor was benign, and he is now a doctoral student in agricultural/biological engineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. As he recovered from surgery, White had ideas for a less cumbersome drain holder, but “no way to follow up on them,” she says.

Serendipitously, a year later, White began working as simulation lab coordinator at the UIC College of Nursing at Urbana. Shortly after that, a representative from the mechanical engineering department inquired if White had any ideas for capstone senior projects. It was the opportunity she’d been seeking. She soon began working on a design for a wound drain holder with four engineering students: Faisal AlSayed, Jacey Lambert, Poom Prasopsukh and Amol Rairikar.

“Even though my son has fully recovered, this collaboration will hopefully result in a product that will improve the comfort of wound drains for many more individuals,” she says.

With assistance from UIC’s Office of Technology Management, White received a provisional patent at the end of last year. The innovation grant, up to $25,000, will allow her to reproduce several of the prototype and possibly pursue a clinical trial. Photos and a detailed description of the drain are not being shared due to the provisional nature of the patent and while the prototype is studied.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email