Oxygen Needed, Oxygen Delivered: the research and technology helping premature babies


Research based in Tasmania is breaking new ground in respiratory support for babies.

Start Date

22nd Mar 2017 6:00pm

End Date

22nd Mar 2017 7:00pm


Medical Science Precinct, Corner of Liverpool and Campbell Streets, Hobart

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The ability to breathe normally is often the biggest challenge facing premature babies, many of whom need respiratory support including oxygen therapy for some time after birth. Research based in Tasmania combining the fields of neonatology and biomedical engineering is breaking new ground, with a trial under way that uses smart technology to help control the amount of oxygen delivered to premature babies, setting them on their way to breathing independently.

As a result of work at the University of Tasmania’s Menzies Institute for Medical Research, School of Engineering and ICT and the Royal Hobart Hospital, a new device has been developed that automatically controls the concentration of oxygen in the gas delivered to a baby’s lungs whilst they are receiving breathing support. The device, known as the inspired oxygen controller, has shown great promise in an initial clinical study, and further work is under way in 2017. With refinement, further validation and likely industry uptake, it has the potential to make a worldwide impact in neonatal clinical care.



Professor Peter Dargaville is a Professorial Research Fellow at the University of Tasmania’s Menzies Institute for Medical Research and has been a full-time specialist at the Royal Hobart Hospital for the past 12 years, working in the Neonatal and Paediatric Intensive Care Unit. Before that he was a Newborn Specialist at the Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne. He has been involved in newborn lung research for over 25 years.

Dr Tim Gale is Senior Lecturer in the School of Engineering and ICT at the University of Tasmania. His research interests are in biomedical engineering. He has collaborated closely with Professor Dargaville over the past eight years to provide engineering expertise in neonatal oxygenation research, particularly in relation to medical devices, instrumentation, control and signal processing.


Melinda Cruz is the Founder and CEO of the Miracle Babies Foundation. A mother of three, she established the Foundation in 2005 with the vision of achieving better, healthier outcomes for newborns and their families challenged by prematurity or sickness. Melinda is a trusted expert and educator to medical professionals and a sought-after public speaker. She is the first parent in Australia to be invited as an Associate Investigator on Neonatal Studies and Trials and presented at the Vermont Oxford Network Annual Meeting and Quality Congress, Chicago in October 2012. The incredible difference Melinda has made to thousands of families has seen her win numerous local and national awards including the 2011 Ernst & Young Social Entrepreneur of the Year. She is also a published author.

Tea and coffee will be available before the talk from 5.30pm.