Third year medical student David Hodgson and his partner (and spouse) Sara Fedullo (BEng ’21) are helping kids breathe easier.

- July 6, 2022

(Nick Pearce photo)
(Nick Pearce photo)

Third year medical student David Hodgson and his partner (and spouse) Sara Fedullo (BEng ’21) are breathing new life into the asthma inhaler market through their start-up, HOLLO Medical.

INNOVATION: When you see someone take a puff on an asthma inhaler there’s a good chance the medication isn’t getting to their lungs. The medicine releases quickly, making it difficult to time exactly when to inhale it. This can be especially hard for kids, which is why they are supposed to use spacers, chambers that briefly suspend the medicated mist to give them time to inhale it. But spacers are bulky, awkward, and often left at home—not where they’re needed when an attack strikes. HOLLO Medical has created a spacer prototype that makes it easier for kids to get the lifesaving medication they need.

FOUNDATION: With their market defined and a functioning prototype in hand, the pair are now working with Dalhousie’s Emera ideaHUB and Halifax-based innovation hub, Volta, and are raising funds to scale up their enterprise. “The next step for our development is to seek regulatory clearance,” says Hodgson. “We’re almost ready to get the stamp of approval to test our device and eventually sell it across North America and beyond.”

“Dalhousie has been huge in terms of getting us started. Dal’s Office of Commercialization and Industry Engagement connected us with numerous Dal Innovates resources and programs that have truly set us up for success,” says Hodgson.

INSPIRATION: After learning about the problems with inhalers in a workshop with a respiratory therapist at a Halifax hospital, Hodgson was vexed by the thought of kids gasping for breath and not getting the medicine they need. He saw an opportunity for innovation and knew exactly where to turn to make it a reality. “I was studying for finals and Dave came bursting in and said, ‘I have this is great idea and you are the perfect person to help me,’” said Fedullo, whose background in 3D printing made her the ideal collaborator.

WHY IT MATTERS: “You can’t just stuff a spacer in your pocket. We want to empower kids by giving them a spacer they will want to use and show their friends,” says Fedullo. “Our spacer will be the most portable valved holding chamber ever produced and made in such a way that it matches the performance of industry-leading chambers,” adds Hodgson.

This story appeared in the DAL Magazine Spring 2022 issue. Flip through the rest of the Spring 2022 issue using the links below.


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