Category: Corporate Collaborations

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!

 

Corporate Collaborations

Life Science Workshop a ‘Tour de Force of Knowledge’…

Life Science Workshop a ‘Tour de Force of Knowledge’ for Bayer, Hopkins Scientists

 

This spring, Bayer brought its Life Science Workshop Series to the Johns Hopkins medical campus, creating an information exchange that could further stimulate collaboration between the two organizations.

The invite-only scientific workshop focused on how advances in radiation science and radiopharmaceuticals have created opportunities for more effective cancer treatments by combining radiation therapy and immuno-oncology. Experts from Johns Hopkins, Bayer, the National Cancer Institute, National Institute of Health, Weill Cornell Medicine, University of Washington Medicine and Tulane University presented over the two-day event.

Bayer Life Science Workshop at Johns Hopkins

“What really struck me and what I think made this conference novel is that we started with the latest developments in immunology and ended with the latest developments in radiochemistry,” says Dr. George Sgouros, Johns Hopkins’ representative on the four-person organizing committee of the workshop’s scientific program. “That span of expertise I really hadn’t seen put together in that way. It was a tour de force of knowledge that spanned numerous fields that you typically wouldn’t find in any one meeting.”

During the workshop, the three dozen Bayer scientists, two dozen Johns Hopkins researchers and six guest speakers in attendance had deep scientific discussions about cutting-edge cancer treatments that combine radiation therapy with immune cells that target cancer cells and deliver the radiation therapy systemically in a tumor-targeted manner.

“Tumor cells have co-opted the machinery that prevent our immune system from attacking our own cells,” says Sgouros, the director of radiopharmaceutical dosimetry and a professor of radiology and radiological science at Johns Hopkins. “Interestingly, immune cells infiltrate tumors, but they don’t act because they get signals that tell them not to.”

Recent research has found that certain drugs can block the “cloaking signal” that tumor cells give off, triggering the immune cells to action. In addition, Sgouros says, the immune cells will develop a memory that allows them to recognize and fight tumor cells in the future. This novel treatment combined with radiation therapy that calls immune cells to action by killing a tumor cell and releasing parts of it outside its membrane has shown improved patient outcomes.

“This event was a great opportunity to get updated on the latest science in an interactive way,” Sgouros says.

Though Bayer’s current collaboration with Johns Hopkins focuses on ophthalmology, the German-based company chose to have one of its four annual workshops in Baltimore to provide a diverse, strong learning experience for its scientists and to explore further synergies for its established relationship with Johns Hopkins.

“We designed this event to have real scientific purpose and to serve as a platform for thought exchange,” says Marion Hitchcock, Bayer’s alliance manager to Johns Hopkins and a member of the event’s organizing committee. “We wanted to bring our scientists into a setting where they could discuss cutting-edge science, and in particular Targeted Alpha Therapy (Ra 223 and Targeted Thorium Conjugates).” This new platform, with currently the most advanced molecule in early clinical development, uses the combination of tumor-specific antibodies complexed with the alpha-emitting radionuclide thorium-227.

“Additionally, from Bayer’s side, we wanted to get more exposure to other indication areas at Johns Hopkins, particularly in oncology,” Hitchcock says.

According to Hitchcock, the event took about eight months to plan and intentionally took place just before the American Association for Cancer Research’s annual meeting in Washington D.C. By having the workshop on the eve of AACR’s meeting, Bayer’s mostly Europe-based scientists could attend both events within one trip. For both Bayer and Johns Hopkins, the ability to meet and discuss science in-person together with other U.S.-based thought leaders in the field paid dividends.

“It’s meaningful when we can come together with industry collaborators and learn from each other. This event went beyond research and funding to truly focus on scientific exchange and learning opportunities,” says Mary Beth Thanhouser, a business development associate at Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures who helped organize the event.

Though too early to determine how the relationship between Bayer and Johns Hopkins will progress in terms of research collaboration, additional scientific exchanges where both organizations share what they have learned appears certain.

“Many discussions created excitement for both sides,” Hitchcock says. “We definitely look forward to having similar events with Johns Hopkins in the future.”

Click here to learn more about collaborating with Johns Hopkins researchers.

 

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