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How Teamwork and Innovation Help Us Lead the Fight Against Cancer
How Teamwork and Innovation Help Us Lead the Fight Against Cancer
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We stand on the front lines of the biggest and most daunting health challenges of our times, from HIV to Alzheimer's disease, with a long history of firsts to back it up.

Cancer, which accounts for one out of every six deaths around the world, is no exception, yet many aspects of cancer remain unexplored or not clearly understood. In fact, many causes of cancer appear to have no obvious cause. While that poses distinct challenges, it also means that the oncologists and cancer researchers at the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson are breaking new ground and charting unexplored territory every day. We're developing innovative approaches through novel targets, combination treatments and immunotherapies, with the goal of intercepting the disease and moving toward cures.

Here's an inside look at how our unique, teamwork-driven approach to discovery and innovation is leading to transformational breakthroughs in the fight against cancer—and how your next career move could impact the lives of people around the world.

Fostering Innovation Through Teamwork and Collaboration

We cherish unique perspectives at Johnson & Johnson, since we know that enormous problem-solving potential gets unleashed when diverse minds work together. That's part of the reason we prize cross-functional teamwork at Johnson & Johnson, which plays a vital role in the oncology research overseen by Joe Erhardt, Ph.D., Vice President, Oncology Scientific Partnership Strategy at Janssen Research & Development, LLC.

"I'm always working with cross-functional teams and people from very diverse backgrounds—from scientists to physicians and everyone in between," Joe said. "We're really trying to move the needle in the fight against cancer. We know we have to work collaboratively in order to deliver new treatments and medicines to market."

That means bringing together complementary skill sets in dynamic, collaborative team settings. "In my practice, we not only use our expertise as scientists every day," Joe explained, "but we combine that expertise with subject matter experts in a host of other areas, from business development to product marketing and compliance."

Joe also frequently serves as a mentor for young scientists at Johnson & Johnson. In that capacity, his message to people who are early in their careers is clear and consistent: Identify the things that you're passionate about, and trust that Johnson & Johnson will empower you to explore them—and even to put them at the center of your career.

"The message I try to convey is that there’s just so much potential, and so many opportunities for you to really dive into your passion at Johnson & Johnson," he said. "Sometimes, that might mean shifting from the job you were initially hired into—and that's fine! We're very flexible about how you direct your career." But, Joe added, "The key is to actively direct your career. Don't just let it happen to you."

Putting Our Credo Into Practice—Every Day

Our Credo is how we think about and understand our priorities at Johnson & Johnson. It's what we do as well as how we do it, underpinning everything we set out to achieve. And while it may be an intangible aspect of our culture, it's also something you can very much feel every day at Johnson & Johnson, from the top down and the bottom up.

Within cancer research at Johnson & Johnson, these values empower everyone on Joe's team to think critically, act autonomously and take innovative approaches to combating cancer.

As Joe put it, "I’ve never before encountered the kind of freedom to innovate that we have here, with the end result being that the best ideas bubble up." He added, "There’s so much trust within Johnson & Johnson. This is a company that embraces introspection, critical thinking and new ways of getting things done."

And since we're committed to making the biggest impact possible—part of Johnson & Johnson's broader commitment to changing the trajectory of health for humanity—Joe's team is zeroing in on those areas where their interventions will be the most effective. "We know that we’re better problem-solvers when we focus on specific questions," said Joe, "and we have unrivaled depth of expertise in our core areas of strength."

Our Latest Innovations in the Fight Against Cancer

We're working to combat cancer across several different fronts today, from spearheading landmark clinical trials to sharing our findings with leading experts at conferences like the upcoming American Society of Hematology (ASH) Annual Meeting in San Diego.

Plus, we've uncovered entirely new areas where we think we can make an impact. For example, since surgery today is commonly used to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer, we wondered what we could do to make these operations as successful as possible. And that’s why we’re supporting the development of tumor-targeting fluorescent dyes. These new dyes actually cause cancer cells to light up during surgical procedures, allowing doctors to remove them more easily and giving patients better chances of survival.

The odds that a cancer patient will develop a blood clot in the deep veins or lungs—technically called a "venous thromboembolism," or VTE—is five times higher than it is for those without cancer. And the risk is even higher for patients undergoing chemotherapy. So we're developing a new blood thinner medication that just might change that. In the clinical studies we've conducted so far, cancer patients given the medication had fewer emergency room visits and lower healthcare costs than those who underwent traditional treatment.

Finally, we've entered into a five-year partnership with Boston University with the goal of fundamentally changing the way we detect and treat lung cancer. Lung cancer kills more people every year than the next four cancer killers combined, so that's one area where there's an especially acute need for progress. We hope to move the needle—and with this partnership we're taking bold steps to turn that hope into reality.

Join Us in the Fight Against Cancer

Want to make groundbreaking contributions to cancer research, treatment and prevention? When you become part of Johnson & Johnson, your next idea could be our next big health breakthrough. Check out how you can join us in the fight against cancer, as well as all of the opportunities available at Johnson & Johnson today.

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