ESTEEM Student speaks at Drug Delivery West Conference in San Francisco

Author: Mikaela Saugstad

Mikaela SaugstadMikaela Saugstad

There could not have been a more perfect or fitting way to finish up my time in ESTEEM:


After a whirlwind day of graduation and moving out of South Bend, I packed up my suitcase and headed to the Indianapolis airport at 5:30 am that next morning.


Despite the chaotic timing, I was more than excited to attend the Drug Delivery West conference in San Francisco, where I had the great privilege of being invited to speak on a panel. The purpose of the Drug Delivery West conference focused primarily on the design needs of drug delivery systems by including the perspectives of pharma, physicians, patients, investors, and other key opinion leaders.


Saugstad Mikaela








As a Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis patient who was diagnosed at the age of 14, I was able to share my personal experience and insights as well as advocate for other patients who have faced similar struggles. Since the day of my diagnosis, I fought and continue to fight a constant battle of regaining my normal life, which included being active and swimming competitively. Unfortunately, there is no cure for this autoimmune disease, and treatments typically involve needles, injections, and nasty side effects.


The ups and downs I have experienced with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis ultimately inspired a solution for dealing with the process of injections. It was ideated during a summer design course in ESTEEM with my two roommates and close friends, Emily Russo and Marissa Koscielski. During the majority of our time at ESTEEM, we have been working on Gigil Precision, a medical device company aimed to empower patients with autoimmune diseases to painlessly and efficiently self-administer their injections.


Panel 1

Attending the conference not only gave me a perfect opportunity to voice my concerns and opinions as a patient, but also allowed me to make meaningful connections with and learn from industry experts.  Each of the two days were filled with engaging presentations and valuable networking sessions. I left the conference with renewed hope for future patient health outcomes, and extra enthusiasm for Gigil after plenty of encouraging validation.