J&J launches 1st of intended series of global research centers

Company says J&J Centers for Global Health Discovery will be cornerstone of efforts to solve world's most pressing health challenges

Johnson & Johnson announced Friday the launch of the J&J Centers for Global Health Discovery, a new global network of unique research partnerships that it says will leverage the institutional strengths of J&J and leading academic institutions to accelerate discovery research to address the world’s most pressing global health challenges.

The first J&J Center is located at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. Additional J&J centers will launch worldwide through 2022. It is unclear if any of the centers will be in New Jersey. J&J is headquartered in New Brunswick.

J&J officials said the centers will advance the critical, early-stage discovery and exploratory science needed to develop potentially lifesaving innovations to address diseases that disproportionately impact the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people. Each satellite center will focus on entrenched and emerging threats that are pressing and have a high unmet need, including tuberculosis, dengue fever, flavivirus, coronavirus and antimicrobial resistance.

Dr. Paul Stoffels, vice chairman of the Executive Committee and chief scientific officer of Johnson & Johnson, said the need for such centers has become readily apparent.

“COVID-19 has shown us that investments in early-stage research, such as novel vaccine technologies, are critical to accelerate our fight against pandemic threats,” he said. “The J&J Centers for Global Health Discovery are the latest chapter in our efforts to turn science into solutions for diseases that continue to threaten communities worldwide.

“This collaborative approach to science is essential to accelerate innovations from the lab to the last mile, address the global health inequities laid bare by the COVID-19 pandemic and improve our health security.”

J&J officials said the centers will help stimulate funding for early-stage science, innovation and talent development, areas that are traditionally underfunded. A 2018 analysis found that many innovations and technologies needed to fight some of the world’s most prevalent health threats are not likely to be developed, due in part to significant funding and innovation gaps.

The J&J centers aim to stimulate the company’s research and development pipeline at the discovery stage by focusing on funding early-stage science, innovation and talent development.

The J&J centers help address the dual innovation and health equity gap by creating a larger and decentralized scientific network that empowers scientists worldwide to drive R&D in the communities where the need is greatest. By joining forces with other institutions and leveraging their regional networks, the J&J centers will help mentor talent and advance the science needed as efficiently as possible.

Dr. Ruxandra Draghia-Akli, global head of global public health R&D at Janssen Research & Development, said the centers represent more progress.

“The launch of the J&J Centers for Global Health Discovery is the latest step forward in our pursuit of collaborative science to deliver for the most underserved worldwide, and there is no better inaugural partner than LSHTM,” she said.

“The thriving innovation community in the United Kingdom matched with LSHTM’s legacy of global health research makes for an ideal environment to accelerate our research agenda against entrenched and emerging threats.”