1. How would you describe the medical device innovation climate?
There has been a significant increase in innovation recently in the medical devices industry. As a society, we are living longer and want to live healthier and better, so this calls for innovation to improve clinical and surgical outcomes for patients.
2. What are some of the hot spaces in the medical device landscape?
Surgical oncology and surgical robotics are very hot right now. There is also a lot of innovation in orthopedics, such as 3D printing, where we can develop patient-specific scaffolds that allow tissue integration for bone healing. An additional surgical area we’re looking to increase and enhance our portfolio in is bariatrics and treatment for metabolic diseases. Serious complications of obesity – such as type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure – can be reduced through bariatric surgery as well as other minimally invasive procedures, making it a hot space for further development of devices.
3. What are some of the focus areas for innovation for JJMD?
Our primary focuses include: surgery and orthopedics with an emphasis on surgical oncology, obesity, osteoarthritis and osteoporosis, as well as cardiovascular/specialty and select cardiovascular diseases. Within each of these focus areas, we are working to identify specific challenges and bring forth innovative solutions. For example, currently in surgical oncology, a surgeon resects as much tumor as possible, including some surrounding tissue. The surgeon sends the tissue to pathology, closes the patient and waits for the pathologist’s feedback – a process that involves unnecessarily removing healthy tissue as well as time spent waiting for the pathology results. To improve this, we now have intraoperative imaging that lights up only the tumor, helping surgeons differentiate from healthy tissue. This technology, which is still in development, allows surgeons to excise the entire tumor without removing much healthy surrounding tissue. In addition, rather than resecting a tumor, a surgeon can ablate it while sparing blood vessels and other sensitive structures, which in turn can reduce post-surgical complications.
4. You have been involved in a lot of device development at Johnson & Johnson. Can you share a few specific advances?
One I am especially proud of is DERMABOND ADVANCED®, a topical skin adhesive device that can be used to glue an incision or laceration instead of sutures. Patients treated with DERMABOND ADVANCED can bathe normally afterward, and don’t need to see a doctor to have the adhesive removed. Another device development that I led was focused on reducing internal post-surgical leaks. Surgeons can’t always predict when they will happen, so we have developed sealants to provide them with the added assurance of reducing post-op leaks. I was also involved in the deal with Tissue Regeneration System (TRS) to develop patient-specific 3D printing for long bone defects. In additional to these orthopedic deals, I also have partnered with colleagues on to source and invest to de-risk early stage transformative solutions for the Ethicon and Cardiovascular & Specialty Solutions franchises.
5. What do you enjoy most about your role?
I love what I do! In my role, I identify transformative opportunities in the eastern half of North America that are aligned with our Medical Device strategy. In collaboration with the Therapeutic Area Lead, I assess, plan and support our investments with operating companies. After a deal is closed, I continue to build strong relationships with our partners, who provide a variety of technology and science. The beauty is that I get to engage with entrepreneurs, early stage companies and academicians on the exciting things they are working on and see where we might collaborate. At the end of the day, we’re looking for transformational solutions that will improve the standard of care in surgical procedures. The best part is that I get to work with a lot of really smart innovators.
6. How do you spend your time outside of the Boston IC?
I serve on several advisory boards for non-profit organizations and research institutions. In addition, I really enjoy participating in panel discussions about medical device innovation and presenting at conferences dedicated to early stage medical technology investing. Recently, I moderated a Medical Development Group/MassBio forum on the power of the combination of products. I have been fortunate and love to give back to the community, especially through mentoring and sharing my love of science with others.