Engineer Rachel Dreilinger: Bioabsorbable surgical clip anyone?

Indian Country Today is featuring Native Americans across the country during the month of November with #NativeIn2019

Rachel Dreilinger, Dine’, has been a biomedical engineer for 20 years specializing in medical device design and development. She is the co-founder and CEO of NeuraMedica, a neurosurgery device company in Oregon City, Oregon.

Though she is immersed in technology, Dreilinger still is attached to her roots in Dine’ culture.

“My Diné grandmother is Flora Sombrero Lind and she grew up on the Diné Nation at Inscription House near Kayenta, AZ. My grandfather, Rulon Lind is bilagaana (white).

My mother Neeta Lind (@NeetaLind) is a Native activist and involved in political outreach as Director of Community at DailyKos.com. Our clans are T ł 'ízí lání (Many Goats) and Kin ł ichii'nii (Red House).”

“My father Jeffrey Fillerup is an attorney and bilagaana (white) but he is on the board of the American Indian College Fund and provides pro-bono legal work for that organization. When my grandma Flora passed, my family set up the “Flora Sombrero Lind Navajo Endowment Fund” through the American Indian College Fund which provides scholarships to Diné students. We are trying to grow this fund to help Diné students attend local tribal colleges on or near the Diné Nation.” https://donate.collegefund.org/site/Donation2?df_id=1760

What about the bioabsorbable surgical clip?

Dreilinger explains one of her company’s latest developments. “We are developing a bioabsorbable surgical clip for durotomy repair in spinal surgery. The dura mater is the membrane that covers the brain and spinal cord and our clip closes openings in the dura (durotomy) and then dissolves in the body over time. This product would be used instead of a suture closure which is the current standard of care and can be very difficult and time-consuming.”

She has worked with her business partner, Dr. Neil Roundy, a neurosurgeon in private practice in Springfield, Oregon at Oregon Neurosurgery Specialists. Since being founded in 2014, NeuraMedica has raised $2.4 million and is expected to launch its product toward the end of 2020.

“We have received investment and grant funding from the Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute (ONAMI), Business Oregon & Oregon Business Development Department (OBDD), the National Science Foundation (NSF) SBIR Program, and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) SBIR program. At this time we are seeking additional funding for final commercialization work, sales, and marketing activities to prepare for our launch, as well as funding to hire more engineers and other employees,” shared Dreilinger.

#NativeIn2019

Dreilinger shared her thoughts on her upbringing and about being #NativeIn2019.

"I did not grow up on the Diné Nation but we stay in touch with our family daily through social media and I try to visit the Rez at least once per year. My grandma Flora was forbidden from speaking her language at boarding school so that was not passed on but I am trying to learn Diné Bizaad (the Navajo language) as best I can. I really enjoy #NativeTwitter and have made a lot of friends and learned so much about Native issues through social media."

“Outreach and activism are very important to me and my family so we try to contribute to our community and society however we can to make things better. To me, being #NativeIn2019 means remembering the sacrifices of our ancestors and doing what I can, in my own way, to help break down the structural racism that negatively affects Native people today. I must recognize the inherent privileges I have as a white-passing Native raised in western culture and listen and learn myself from other Native voices and activists. In my way, I can contribute by learning about my own culture, listening to others, being involved in my community, and providing opportunities and mentorship for other Native engineers and entrepreneurs. In this way, Hózhóogo Naasháa doo (In Beauty, I Walk).”

I love meeting other Native engineers so please feel free to reach out to me and connect through social media. You can also reach me at rachel@NeuraMedica.com.

Facebook: Rachel Love
Instagram: @radical.rachel.love
Twitter: @RadRachelLove

WORK
https://www.linkedin.com/in/racheldreilinger/
https://www.NeuraMedica.com

About Native American Heritage Month and Native American Heritage Day

President George H.W. Bush signed a joint resolution in 1990 designating November as Native American Heritage Month. Each year the president has proclaimed the day after Thanksgiving as Native American Heritage Day. 

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