Rewriting the Story of Treatment Resistant Depression: Ella Daly’s Story
We bring great ideas to life, and then to the world at Johnson & Johnson. We're always innovating to deliver measurable impact and address unmet needs—and depression, as the leading cause of disability worldwide, is one such area where there's considerable unmet need. Right now, in fact, as many as one in three adult patients treated for major depressive disorder (MDD) does not respond to the existing treatment options and may be thought to have Treatment-Resistant Depression (TRD).
But an interdisciplinary and innovative R&D team at Johnson & Johnson is working to change that.
What do those efforts look like from inside our walls? And who are the people on the front lines of research and innovation that has the potential for so much real-world impact? We caught up with Ella Daly, Senior Medical Director, Janssen, to find out.
Collaborating to Bring More Options to Patients
How do you move the needle on a condition that seems to resist treatment by definition? That was the question facing Ella and her colleagues. And from the outset, the team faced other unique challenges as well. Specifically, even though they had identified a compound that might be further developed for the treatment of TRD, they weren't sure how to harness its potential.
"What's the optimal way to administer this compound to patients? That was one really critical question," Ella explained.
Finally, though, they landed on a solution using a device that could be administered by patients under the supervision of healthcare professionals. But to get there took some monumental teamwork, as Ella recounted. "So many smart people collaborated on the design of the device and the designs of clinical studies.”
At Johnson & Johnson, we know that teamwork and innovation go hand in hand, so collaboration is a part of the fabric of our culture—and our recent product development efforts in the fight against TRD were no exception. As Ella observed, “This was truly a huge, cross-functional team effort."
Think clinical pharmacologists, toxicologists, statisticians, development scientists, product designers, device engineers, preclinical and program managers, global clinical operations, medical writers, regulatory experts and many, many others at Johnson & Johnson.
But, of course, none of that work would be possible without the patients who participate in clinical trials—and for whom we are so grateful.
Seeing “The Writing on the Wall” Put Into Daily Practice
"Supporting better access and care" is a line in Our Credo at Johnson & Johnson. It's also a daily practice—and part of the reason we ranked among the top three companies working to expand global access to medicines on the 2018 Access to Medicine Index.
Ella, in the course of her recent work, said she saw what it means to practice Our Credo day in and day out.
"I confess that when I first joined the company, I didn't really know what Our Credo was all about—it was just a framed document hanging on the wall at every Janssen campus. But what I've seen in my recent work has changed that and made it real. It's the level of commitment to our patients, first and foremost, that I see every day. And then, it's also about making sure that people who need this drug, and who will benefit the most from it, are able to access it. I feel like I've truly seen Our Credo in action."Share
Ella's Path to Johnson & Johnson
When people with diverse backgrounds and fresh perspectives—like yours—come together to collaborate, we know that innovation and new ideas can take flight. And that means there’s no single path to Johnson & Johnson, as Ella’s story makes clear.
Prior to joining Johnson & Johnson, she worked as a psychiatrist in clinical research settings, completed a clinical research fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital and served as Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.
While working directly with patients every day, however, her interests began to take her in a new direction. "I so badly wanted to have better options for my patients, to be able to provide new solutions and treatment options," she said. "Unfortunately, there were limitations—in terms of time and funding—to what I could do."
But after meeting experts from Janssen at various scientific conferences, she suddenly realized there might be a way for her to shed some of those limitations.
"Joining Johnson & Johnson was a chance for me to not only continue and expand my research," she said, "but also improve the quality of the care and solutions that are out there."
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