Author: Brian Conlin


The Johns Hopkins University and Deerfield Announce Collaboration to…

The Johns Hopkins University and Deerfield Announce Collaboration to Catalyze Early Stage Therapeutic Research

The Johns Hopkins University and Deerfield Management announced today the creation of Bluefield Innovations, a collaboration designed to catalyze the development of early stage therapeutics. Funded by Deerfield, an investment management firm committed to advancing health care, Bluefield Innovations will provide up to $65 million in initial funding over five years to support the commercialization of early stage therapeutic research at Johns Hopkins, with additional funding available to advance research that shows strong commercial potential.

A joint steering committee will identify the research that Bluefield will support through the pre-clinical development process — including basic research, proof of concept, target selection and investigational new drug- (IND) enabling studies designed to qualify a candidate to enter into human clinical trials. Research developed within Bluefield will either be licensed to third parties or spun out into new companies. Funding for companies supported by Bluefield may include capital from Deerfield.

“We are proud and excited to be collaborating with Johns Hopkins, a premier institution with world-class scientists dedicated to pushing the boundaries of discovery to transform health care,” stated James Flynn, managing partner at Deerfield Management. “Further, the development expertise and scientific leadership resident at Johns Hopkins Drug Discovery Program is a tremendous asset in enabling Bluefield to move the innovations of Hopkins’ scientists forward toward their therapeutic applications.”

Combining the respective strengths of each organization — Johns Hopkins’ scientific discovery expertise and Deerfield’s drug development, operational and financial support — enables Bluefield to reduce the financial and developmental risk associated with early stage novel projects.

“For more than 125 years, Johns Hopkins has been at the forefront of research and medical innovation. As we expand this tradition, collaborations with industry will help us more efficiently move groundbreaking technologies to market,” says Ronald J. Daniels, president of The Johns Hopkins University. “Our relationship with Deerfield will provide a fully funded and professionally supported avenue for Johns Hopkins researchers to deliver on the potential of their promising work.”

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Technology Transfer

Down With Delays: Digital Signatures Streamline NDA, MTA Approvals

Down With Delays: Digital Signatures Streamline NDA, MTA Approvals


Print, sign, scan, forward, repeat. The process seems straightforward, but it caused delays and headaches for the Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures (JHTV) contracts team and the faculty with whom they worked.

Out of the office? Good luck finding a printer. Signed your Material Transfer Agreement (MTA) or Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA)? The scans were sometimes unreadable, necessitating they be re-sent.

These inefficiencies couldn’t last in an office that completed more than 4,000 MTAs each of the past two years. Fortunately, the contracts team found a solution, DocuSign. The electronic signature and document management system enables parties to simultaneously review and digitally sign documents from their phone, tablet or computer. In essence, the software transforms document finalization from a backroad with countless stop signs into a clear highway.

After months of troubleshooting and a soft launch for “frequent flyer” faculty members run by the team’s paralegal, Amy Howard, the Contracts team fully implemented the digital signature process in May 2017.

“Introducing DocuSign to our workflow was one of the most impactful things we did in fiscal year 2017,” says Steve Kousouris, JHTV’s Senior Director of Finance and Administration. “It has increased faculty satisfaction, improved productivity and decreased the amount of time in which we received signed and finalized documents.”

The addition of DocuSign led to Kousouris setting an ambitious goal for the team: processing 500 MTAs and NDAs in the three months before the close of the fiscal year. Not only did the team meet that goal, they exceeded it by 20 percent and showed improvement in processing speed. A thermometer made by Contract Associate Susan Liew and her two children helped the team track its progress.

In the fourth quarter, the Contracts team received more than 200 MTA requests and completed 67 percent within five days and 94 percent within 30 days, the highest rate since at least the start of fiscal year 2009. Mirroring that fourth quarter performance, the team processed 56 percent of the approximately 90 NDAs it received within five days. Ninety-three percent were completed within 30 days.

“Spending less time on administrative tasks like scanning, printing and emailing multiple contacts for each agreement allows us to speed up our transaction times and enables our associates to take on more agreements,” says Nekeshia Maloney, Director of the Contracts team. “DocuSign reduces the number of emails we send to faculty and outside parties as it automatically follows up every two days. Once signed by all, it packages the signatures into a single document and routes it to the parties for their records. This is where the real time-saving efforts happen.”

Maloney points out that this revamped process allows Johns Hopkins faculty members to more quickly receive or send materials and move forward with collaborations. Ultimately, she says, this only furthers JHTV on its mission to bring life-changing technologies to the world.

The Contracts team’s success hasn’t gone unnoticed. Other parts of JHTV — including the licensing, finance and HR teams — have adopted DocuSign to streamline their processes and to provide better service to stakeholders.

The implementation of DocuSign is just the latest example of JHTV’s commitment to customer service. Over the past year, JHTV has launched a re-designed website, added functionality to its technology search and implemented the 2-2-2 initiative to streamline how it processed invention disclosures.

Want to learn more about JHTV? View our Annual Report!


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