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“Reimagine the Meaning of a Cancer Diagnosis”: Meet a Market Access Lead at Johnson & Johnson

At the intersection of biology and technology, Johnson & Johnson Innovative Medicine is transforming the patient experience, breaking down barriers to access and addressing the leading causes of mortality today. Maren Gaudig, Senior Global Compound Market Access Lead, Cell Therapy, explains.  

Expanding Access to Transformative Medicines

Leveraging the body’s immune system to prevent, control or cure cancer is the focus of a revolutionary area of oncology research known as “cell therapy,” which holds incredible promise for patients with lung cancer, bladder cancer and other conditions.

The premise behind cell therapy is frankly incredible, too—personalized therapies created by extracting and modifying immune cells from cancer patients’ blood, rather than by combining compounds in the lab.

But to state the obvious, health breakthroughs like cell therapy are only useful if patients can access them, which is Maren’s mission: expanding our footprint to be as large and inclusive as possible.

“We’re putting patients first, ensuring that everyone can see themselves reflected in our science and leading where medicine is going at Johnson & Johnson,” Maren says. “In this case, that means building altogether new technologies to allow particular types of cells to be used safely and effectively in cancer treatments.
 
Doing that, in practical terms, is a massively collaborative effort, bringing together physicians and scientists with clinical researchers and experts across functions. It also requires innovating to bridge the gap between science and tech: for example, combining data and analytics with new frontiers opened up by AI and our expertise in multiple therapeutic areas.

The success of those efforts can be felt by patients every day. “I’m proud of the amazing impact that our teams have made so far—contributing to the increased life expectancy for patients with certain types of cancer, for example,” Maren says.

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My team is resolutely focused on what’s next in oncology, on how we’ll rise to new challenges and continue to address unmet patient needs in the future.

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Working With You to Shape the Future of Health

Making transformative medicines and treatments widely available to patients and providers, overcoming as many barriers to access as possible, is crucial if we hope to one day stamp out cancer. But Maren and her colleagues are also innovating in ways that go beyond medicine, which means taking a unique approach—one informed and inspired by patients themselves.

As an example, Maren points to the ways in which personal identity can change with a cancer diagnosis: “When you’ve just been diagnosed with cancer and are faced with so much uncertainty, it can be hard to remember what it felt like to lead an ordinary life. You no longer seem to have the privilege of thinking ‘Oh, I’m just like anybody else.’”
 
But through personalized innovations that enable clinicians to reach the hardest-to-reach parts of the body, treat tumors with pinpoint precision and restore anatomy, Maren hopes to restore aspects of personal identity to patients as well, allowing them to reclaim whatever pieces of themselves the diagnosis may have forced them to shed.

“We’re empowering patients—that’s the mission, first and foremost,” Maren says. “But in this case, I think that means giving them the power to remember as well as the power to forget.”

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To reimagine the future of health, you have to reimagine what healing and recovery processes look like, and ultimately the meaning of a cancer diagnosis itself.

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A Culture of Learning and Growth

A recognized expert in her field, Maren holds two related master’s degrees: one in Health Economics, the other in Health Economics, Policy and Law—though you’ll probably only need one to join her. Yet what accounts for her rapid rise through eight different roles at Johnson & Johnson may have as much to do with her educational background as it does with our approach to learning and development.

“During my tenure, I’ve held local, regional, national and global roles with our Innovative Medicine and MedTech sectors—hands-on learning experiences requiring me to expand my knowledge, learn new systems and test my skills in ways complementary to my work in Market Access,” she says. “At Johnson & Johnson, you’ll be asked to take on challenges that you might not think you’re ready for, but that you accept because your manager believes you are, and later you look back like ‘Wow! How lucky am I? I am so glad I did that!’”

An example of that came early in Maren’s career, supporting a team in the U.K. after one of its members went on maternity leave. “From start to finish, it was an incredible learning experience, and it’s representative of the ways in which you’re going to be challenged to explore, learn new things, pursue your interests and grow when you join us,” she says.

In hindsight, the experience has added resonance for Maren now that she’s a mother herself.

“The level of support my team demonstrated without being asked when I went on maternity leave was unbelievable,” she says. “So I think the key takeaway is twofold: This is a place where you’ll be asked to grow, and where you’ll know that you’re deeply supported and empowered to bring your whole, authentic self into work. For me, that means having the freedom and flexibility to be a mother as well as a busy professional—having time to take my son to school every morning, for example, or knowing I can work from home in order to be there for him if he’s sick and continue to contribute to projects that have the power to change lives. How many other companies can you say that about?”

Join Johnson & Johnson

We’re transforming the patient experience, solving the toughest health challenges of our time and unlocking the breakthroughs of tomorrow at Johnson & Johnson. Together, we can lead where medicine is going when you join us. 

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