Session 3 – Accelerating Biomedical Innovations
Date: 22 July (Wednesday) 12:20 – 13:50 (GMT+8)
Venue: 701EF, 7F, TaiNEX2 / Online event platform
Benjamin C. Wiegand, Ph.D. is the Global Head of the World Without Disease Accelerator, Janssen R&D. This effort is a critical element in Janssen’s efforts to catalyze a new paradigm in health care, with the potential to capitalize on the expertise across all of J&J. As the leader of the WWD Accelerator, Ben is responsible for developing and implementing strategies that will deliver solutions in a World Without Disease paradigm. The focus of the World Without Disease Accelerator is to address the root cause(s) of disease, and then either prevent, intercept and cure the disease. This will lead to interventions much earlier than today’s clinically accepted point of diagnosis and will lead to the eradication of the targeted disease. These efforts will require both technical and business model innovation to create this new healthcare paradigm.
Ben has worked at Johnson & Johnson for over 20 years, with experiences in a wide range of the Johnson & Johnson Consumer businesses. He has a broad range of experience in both short-term product development as well as long term innovation. In that role, he was named a 2008 Johnson Medal recipient for his work on key behavioral studies of the effect of rituals in improving infant sleep behaviors.
Ben holds a B.S. degree in Chemistry from the University of Illinois, and both a M.A. and Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from Harvard University.
Speech title & Synopsis
Life expectancy increased through the ages, but immortality remains elusive. This increase in lifespan comes with a cost, i.e., as we age, we accumulate unwanted diseases. If lifespan is longer and the age of onset of disease is unchanged, we will live longer, unhealthier lives. We are all incubating diseases, but we do not know what they are or from where they come. But what if we could predict and preempt the onset of disease and increase our “healthspan”. This we have termed “immorbidity”, living a life free of disease.
The WWDA was created to realize this increasingly plausible goal since soon, many will be born knowing our “specs”, i.e., a comprehensive list of all diseases to which we are susceptible. Real world data will then define our risk. Parents, siblings and selves will ask, “so what are we going to do about it?” The first company that makes products to answer these questions will transform Healthcare.
The WWDA strategy is based on three tenets, prevention, interception and cure. Each of these underpins a series of projects designed to explore the feasibility of this approach across several disease types. To begin creating a world without disease, we determined key capabilities needed to complement those within J&J. These include: expertise in disease initiation (e.g., role of the microbiome and immune system); sensors, wearables and invisibles to identify and monitor individuals “at risk”; data science and preventive biomarkers and; behavioral science and neurobiology. We then attracted world-class talent to fortify each of these areas.
We prioritized four diseases based on unmet need, commercial opportunity, disease biology, (focused on disease initiation) and access to clinical stage assets for testing key hypotheses. These are Type 1 Diabetes, Healthy Childhood, Colorectal Cancer and Lung Cancer. We will share progress against these efforts.