Looking Back On a Year of Health Breakthroughs at Johnson & Johnson
Enhancing Our Understanding of Autism
We're addressing the biggest health challenges of our time, from HIV to tuberculosis (TB) to Alzheimer's disease, with a long history of firsts on our resume. And Gahan Pandina, Ph.D., Senior Director, Compound Development Team Leader at Janssen Research & Development, one of the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies, is on the front lines of that work every day. By harnessing data and leveraging the latest technologies, Gahan and his team hope to uncover new insights into Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
While approximately one in 160 children globally has an ASD, with other estimates putting the rate at one in 59, much about ASD—including the exact cause—remains unknown. A big part of the challenge, Gahan explained, is a lack of objective data.
"The state of the science in ASD remains largely based on caregiver or clinician reports and interviews," he said. "There aren't blood tests or similar diagnostic mechanisms to help us understand ASD. These are essentially traditional paper-and-pencil methods, even if they're electronic."
In other words, much of what we know about ASD's symptoms and progression over time comes from subjective assessments. That's why Gahan and his team built the Janssen Autism Knowledge Engine (JAKE®), which includes My JAKE—a web and mobile system to monitor and measure daily behaviors that can be integrated into clinical studies. They've also created JAKE Sense, a Biosensor Workbench capable of tracking facial affect, eye movements and other potential ASD biomarkers.
Looking ahead to 2019, Gahan is eager to apply these tools in new clinical trials, and to utilize information from recently completed studies with JAKE to support the development of a globally collaborative framework.
"We're working to create a large clinical trial network with leading groups from around the world," he said.
Today, for example, he serves as an adviser to the Autism Innovative Medicine Studies-2-Trials (AIMS-2-Trials) group, which is the largest grant ever awarded for conducting research into neurodevelopmental disorders. Hopefully, collaborations like these will significantly enhance our understanding of ASD biomarkers.
Plus, because ASD is so close to our hearts and minds, coverage for Applied Behavior Analysis, an intervention-based education service specifically designed for children with ASD, is one of the benefits we offer our U.S. employees.
Working to Make TB History
Our work with TB care goes back a long way. In fact, the desire to find a cure for TB is why Paul Janssen, the founder of Janssen Pharmaceuticals, pursued a career in medicine in the first place. More recently, we developed the first targeted TB drug with a novel mechanism of action to be approved in more than 40 years—but there's a lot of work still to be done. Indeed, TB remains the leading cause of death globally from a single infectious agent.
So we're taking action. We've ramped up our efforts to eradicate TB and plan to make an even greater impact—in the new year and beyond. For instance, we launched a 10-year initiative to help end the global TB pandemic by 2030. Our goal is nothing short of saving as many as 1.8 million lives while preventing 12 million new TB infections over the course of a decade.
This is just one part of our commitment to changing the trajectory of health for humanity—and why we need the brightest minds and most compassionate hearts to join our team at Johnson & Johnson.
Introducing Game-Changing Devices to Improve Surgical Procedures
Spinal fusion surgery, a procedure that helps alleviate back pain, requires a surgeon to fuse two or more of a patient's vertebrae. While the procedure is relatively common—an estimated 3.4 million people will undergo spinal fusion surgery annually by 2020—it also comes with a host of risks and possible complications for patients, ranging from pain at the graft site to a recurrence of the original symptoms.
The team at DePuy Synthes, one of the Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices Companies, set out to improve the way spinal fusion surgery is performed. The result is a next-generation technology that enters the space between a patient's vertebrae in a smaller, collapsed state. Once in the right spot, it can be expanded to the ideal height. An additional benefit is the ability to help maximize bone graft placement, which increases the potential for the vertebrae to fuse together and stabilize the spine.
Another exciting project from DePuy Synthes is a new technology, which only became available to patients in the U.S. last year, that could potentially improve shoulder replacement surgeries.
How? Previously, qualifying for shoulder replacement surgery required that a patient have a healthy rotator cuff in order to stabilize the joint. Unfortunately, that wasn't always the case for many of the patients who needed the surgery—particularly among elderly patients.
To help address that unmet need, the team at DePuy Synthes came up with an innovative solution specifically designed to treat shoulder fractures in patients with damaged rotator cuffs.
Join Johnson & Johnson Today
From AI-powered skincare apps for consumers to innovative treatments for people with chronic acid reflux and virtual reality (VR) training tools for surgeons and nurses, 2018 was a year of amazing breakthroughs at Johnson & Johnson. Innovation aside, we were recognized in a lot of other ways, too: We took the top spot on the 2018 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list, landed on the Fortune World's Most Admired Companies list for the 16th year in a row, earned a place among the Working Mother 100 Best Companies and were named to Forbes’ lists of Best Employers for New Grads and Best Employers for Women.
Ready to build the future of health, collaborate and make real-world impact? Check out all of the opportunities to join us at the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies today.