Category: Corporate Collaborations

Corporate Collaborations

Bluefield Innovations Pursues Broadly Applicable Cancer Target

Bluefield Innovations Pursues Broadly Applicable Cancer Target


Bluefield Innovations, a collaboration between the Johns Hopkins University and Deerfield Management to catalyze early stage therapeutic development, announced today the acceptance and funding of its first project. The target, the enzyme RNA polymerase I (Pol I), is implicated in many forms of cancer.

Originating in the lab of Marikki Laiho, MD, Ph.D., the Willard and Lillian Hackerman Professor of Radiation Oncology and director of the Division of Molecular Radiation Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, the discovery illustrates how cancer cells disproportionately rely on the Pol I cellular pathway when compared to normal cells. Laiho’s research indicates that interfering with this pathway kills cancer cells while causing little harm to normal cells. The acceptance of this project comes just two months after the launch of Bluefield Innovations.

“We are excited to accept Dr. Laiho’s project into Bluefield Innovations and show our commitment to the goal of advancing promising research projects,” says James Flynn, managing partner at Deerfield Management.

Dr. Marikki Laiho
Bluefield will provide scientific, financial and operational support to Laiho’s research, enabling her team to identify the clinical lead molecule and to move that candidate toward human clinical trials. Ultimately, this support could lead to the development of a first-in-class small molecule drug.

“I truly appreciate the opportunity to align with a collaborator that shares the same mindset and goals surrounding early stage research targets,” Laiho says. “Bluefield understands that new targets and first-in-class molecules require a higher level of due diligence and with that, they provide the expertise to support the extensive ground work required for the IND process.”

A joint steering committee consisting of representatives from Johns Hopkins and Deerfield selected Laiho’s research to receive the first round of support from Bluefield. The initial five-year term of Bluefield Innovations will provide support and funding to approximately a dozen Johns Hopkins faculty and researchers. A call for applications will take place in the first quarter of 2018.

“Bluefield Innovations provides a valuable avenue for Johns Hopkins researchers to unleash the potential of their promising work,” says William Nelson, MD, Ph.D., professor of oncology and director of the Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center. “Dr. Laiho’s research may prove to be a transformational cancer treatment. We’re excited that Bluefield has provided her an opportunity to accelerate its development and commercialization.”

Click here for the announcement of Bluefield Innovations!

Corporate Collaborations

Collaboration is Key: Johnson & Johnson Innovation Looking to…

Collaboration is Key: Johnson & Johnson Innovation Looking to Support Early-Stage Research


Tenacity, innovation and business savvy tend to go only so far when striving to commercialize early-stage research. Moving technology from lab to marketplace is more efficient with a collaborator who has complementary expertise.

The value of such a collaboration was on display on Nov. 2 as 100 researchers, scientists and innovation ecosystem builders streamed into Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures (JHTV) to hear Johnson & Johnson Innovation (JJI) discuss the many ways it accelerates innovation and facilitates collaborations between entrepreneurs and Johnson & Johnson’s global health care businesses.

The half-day event showcased JJI’s business development, venture investment, incubation and R&D resources — which they designed to more quickly move promising health care innovations to those who need them. They also discussed best practices for collaborating with Johnson & Johnson Innovation and held one-on-one meetings to discuss opportunities with select attendees after the presentation.

“Collaboration is such a crucial component to the commercialization of innovations,” says FastForward program manager Megan Wahler. “The many ways Johnson & Johnson Innovation supports early-stage researchers ensures more promising health care technologies make it to the marketplace where they can improve quality of life.”

The promising early-stage science being developed at Johns Hopkins, the University of Maryland and across the region was a key reason that JJI presented at JHTV, says Eric Schaeffer Johnson & Johnson’s Senior Director of Scientific Innovation and Neuroscience. JJI typically holds between five and 10 of these events each year in locations with major research universities and emerging biotech communities.

Through these events, JJI’s diverse team of science and transaction experts find high-potential early-stage innovations that fit Johnson & Johnson’s strategic mission and create customized deal structures to help accelerate the science to the patient. Typically in the days and weeks following the event, JJI sees a large uptick in emails and LinkedIn messages from scientists at the institutions and regions where they present, Schaeffer says.

“Our goals with these presentations are to increase recognition of who we are and what we do as well as to connect with entrepreneurs both in small companies and academic hubs who may have interesting ideas for companies or products,” Schaeffer says.

In fact, Schaeffer said that the individual meetings after the presentation led to promising conversations with innovators in his focus area of neuroscience.

“We connected with a number of scientists and entrepreneurs performing interesting research,” he says. “If even one of these meetings leads to a potential collaboration, it makes the whole trip worthwhile.”

Among the attendees at JJI’s presentation at JHTV were representatives from the Maryland Department of Commerce. In addition to better understanding how to collaborate with Johnson & Johnson Innovation, the event afforded them the opportunity to meet JJI representatives who specialize in areas where the Department of Commerce wants to make connections, says Bret Schreiber, senior director of the Maryland Department of Commerce’s Office of BioHealth and Life Sciences.

Aside from the many pathways for collaboration that the event opened, Schreiber saw a positive from Johnson & Johnson Innovation coming to Johns Hopkins. It signals, he says, that the Johns Hopkins, Baltimore and Maryland innovation ecosystems are growing stronger.

“Johnson & Johnson is one of the world’s preeminent companies. From an innovation standpoint, their initiatives have been incredible,” Schreiber says. “To have an entity like Johnson & Johnson Innovation come to Johns Hopkins really signals to me that Maryland is moving from an emerging innovation ecosystem to an established one.”

Click here to learn more about Johns Hopkins collaborations!


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