JJDC 2020 Annual Newsletter



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Dear Partners & Colleagues,

2020 will be remembered as a year of considerable uncertainty and daunting challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic that impacted all of us – but dramatically and disproportionately harming racial and ethnic minority groups in the U.S. and around the world. It has also been a year when the role of science and technology in our society came into sharper focus than ever before.

I am proud to say that throughout this unprecedented year, Johnson & Johnson not only stepped up to help battle COVID-19 through a multi-pronged approach, but also remained committed to improving the lives of consumers and patients, forged new partnerships, and embraced exciting ideas that hold promise for changing the trajectory of health for humanity. We also did this with an eye towards addressing the racial inequities in consumer and patient wellbeing and care that are too prevalent in society today.

As part of Johnson & Johnson Innovation, the mission of JJDC is to invest in and support the global entrepreneurial community to solve critical healthcare needs. Throughout 2020, our team maintained a steadfast commitment to this mission. We invested over $500MM in innovative healthcare companies and closed over 40 investments and in so doing, we maintained our position as the number 1 healthcare CVC investor for the 3rd consecutive year. While working from home and balancing multiple demands, we maintained our focus on the patients and consumers who are waiting for new solutions, and on our partners -- the innovators and entrepreneurs who are working to make breakthroughs possible. We worked creatively and collaboratively, and even managed to complete some new investments entirely via Zoom.

In this newsletter, we are pleased to highlight some of the strategic investments we’ve moved forward in 2020, ranging from innovations in GI surgery to those that give consumers the power to personalize their acne treatment, to those that harness the promise of health technology and Big Data to drive healthcare decision-making. These stories are just a handful of examples of how JJDC is connecting entrepreneurs to the expertise and full global capabilities of Johnson & Johnson as we work together to navigate the path to creating breakthrough health innovations.

During a year that tested all of us in ways large and small, I am enormously proud of all that we have been able to accomplish together. As we head into 2021, I am optimistic that the global community will succeed in bringing the pandemic to an end, and that we’ll be able to build on the knowledge and lessons learned in the past year to make sure we are much better prepared for future epidemics. I hope that as a society, we will continue to celebrate the champions of science who work passionately to bring new solutions, and support investment in the ideas that will deliver a healthier future for all of us.

At JJDC, we remain committed to accelerating the momentum of healthcare innovation, working collaboratively with our numerous partners around the world, and fueling the life sciences ecosystem to deliver much-needed solutions for everyone, everywhere.

Stay well!

Chris Signature

Chris Picariello

President, Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC, Inc.




Noam Krantz Vice President, Venture Investments joined JJDC in January 2020. Noam is based in San Francisco, CA and focused on the medical device sector.  Claire Leurent, Ph.D. MBA Principal of Venture Investments joined JJDC in December 2019. Claire is based in Boston, MA and is focused on the pharmaceutical sector. Fiona MacLaughlin, Ph.D.Senior Director, Venture Investments joined JJDC in May 2020. Fiona is based in London, UK and is focused on the pharmaceutical sector. Anurag Mehta Principal, Venture Investments joined JJDC in May 2020. Anurag is based in New York, NY and focused on the consumer health sector. Asha Nayak, M.D., Ph.D.Vice President, Consumer Health Investments joined JJDC in June 2020. Asha is based in San Francisco, CA and focused on the consumer health sector. Elizabeth Wu, Ph.D.Manager, Venture Investments joined JJDC in November 2020. Liz is based in Seoul, South Korea and is focused on consumer and pharma sectors.

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Advancing At-Home Diagnostics  in an Unprecedented Year

Telehealth is on the rise. The rapid evolution of digital health technology has made diagnostic testing quicker and easier than ever before. More and more Americans are demanding telehealth services, especially amidst the coronavirus pandemic. Johnson & Johnson Innovation was among the first companies to recognize this trend and in 2015, established a collaboration with a promising start-up, Cue Health, to develop the first at-home HIV viral load test. Cue’s Health Monitoring System is a portable, automated, connected diagnostic platform that provides the power of fast, accurate, lab-quality testing at point-of-care. Designed as an easy-to-use, complete diagnostic tool, the Cue Health Monitoring System, along with the Cue Test Cartridge and Cue Health App, convert test samples into digital results, delivering actionable health data at point-of-care.

In July 2018, Johnson & Johnson co-led a Series B financing round with Cue to fund its product portfolio. Janssen R&D also partnered with Cue to advance its technology to combat respiratory disease, including influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). In 2020, Cue closed a $100MM Series C financing round, enabling the

company to finalize the development, validation, and scaling of its Health Monitoring System and Test Cartridges.


Our vision for Cue has always been to make accurate, actionable health data accessible to patients and their providers. We are grateful to have the support of strategic investors and partners such as J&J, BARDA, and others, who have helped us accelerate our mission to improve outcomes by providing health data in a connected ecosystem of patients, providers, and public health.


Ayub Khattak  Founder & CEO of Cue Health


Test Device


Advancing At-Home Diagnostics  in an Unprecedented Year

GI Windows Opens Up the Promise of Less Invasive  Bariatric Surgery Solutions

Approximately 29 million people in the U.S. are living with Type 2 diabetes; globally, the prevalence of the disease has been rising sharply in the course of the last two decades. Bariatric surgery and the resulting weight loss can improve the health of many people with Type 2 diabetes, but more than 90% of people eligible for this surgical option decline the procedure because of its invasive nature and associated risks.  Advancing solutions for safer, less invasive bariatric surgery is the vision behind JJDCs investment in GI Windows: a clinical-stage, privately held medical device company working to develop the first fundamental breakthrough in surgical anastomotic technology. The company is in the process of conducting several clinical trials to evaluate the safety, efficacy, and durability of the magnetic anastomosis creation throughout the GI tract.  In August of 2020, JJDC was one of the investors in GI Windows’ $16.4 million Series A-1 financing. The funds will be used to catalyze further product development and clinical studies. In September 2020, GI Windows received Breakthrough Device Designation from the U.S. FDA for the self-forming magnetic compression anastomosis device indicated for small bowel end to end anastomosis for ileostomy reversal or tissue resection. In the longer term, GI Windows aims to continue advancing innovations that enable the delivery of less-invasive surgical solutions to large global health problems.


JJDC has been tracking GI Windows for a few years. Due diligence and trust built up over time between both parties and led to a collaboration that has the ability to truly disrupt the medical device industry and positively impact patient behavior related to surgical procedures. It also represents the first investment I have closed entirely on Zoom. A sign of the times, but also a testament of the strength of the relationship between J&J Innovation and GI Windows.


Kadir Kadhiresan, Ph.D. Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC, Inc.


Hear what Brian Tinkham, President & CEO of GI Windows, has to say:

Brian Tinkham Video


Harnessing the Microbiome  to Deliver Personalized  Skincare Solutions

An estimated 9.4% of the world population suffers from acne, making it the eighth most prevalent disease worldwide. And while a variety of treatments are available, the condition continues to have negative physical and often emotional consequences for those affected. In the U.S. alone, acne impacts 50 million Americans annually. JJDC saw an opportunity to fuel new solutions for this unmet need by investing in DERMALA – a start-up founded by Dr. Lada Rasochova, a researcher with a passion for translating scientific discoveries into tangible solutions. In 2014 DERMALA became a JLABS San Diego resident, and the company progressed its science, creative approach, and business development. Experts from across Johnson & Johnson provided cross-functional guidance, counsel and resources on a range of critical elements such as sourcing, clinical efficacy and product development, building a brand, and creating an employee infrastructure.

Today, DERMALA’s innovative, integrated platform combines patent-pending microbiome-based topical and oral products that contain unique prebiotic, probiotic and postbiotic ingredients, together with a proprietary data analytics app that enables personalization and continuous optimization of product formulations based on individual outcomes. In addition, the company is meeting consumers’ increased demand for virtual solutions during the time of COVID-19 and is embracing the growing trend of personalization in skin care.

This year, JJDC co-led a successful $6.73 Million Series A financing for DERMALA. With this investment, DERMALA will focus on scaling operations and manufacturing to meet a loyal and growing customer base as well as expand R&D to explore new personalized microbiome-based products for other skin conditions including eczema and skin aging.


DERMALA has taken on a condition for which there continues to be a substantial unmet need despite existing therapeutic options. By personalizing and virtualizing consumer engagement, DERMALA is delivering a simplified yet individualized experience that is both delightful and effective.


Asha Nayak, M.D., Ph.D. Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC, Inc.




Partnering with Johnson & Johnson has helped DERMALA build a strong foundation for commercializing our personalized microbiome-based skincare solutions. We did our microbiome research and product development at JLABS in San Diego. We tested our product candidates in clinical trials in collaboration with the J&J Consumer group, and now, with investment from JJDC, we are ready to grow and scale.


Lada Rasochova, Ph.D. CEO of DERMALA.



Fueling Progress in the Fight Against Multiple Myeloma

It is estimated that multiple myeloma, a blood cancer, affects more than 480,000 people per year worldwide and results in approximately 100,000 deaths annually. An innovative technology, called CAR-T, has emerged as one of several novel ways to fight cancer by harnessing the patient’s own immune system. Scientists at the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson believed this technology could deliver significant improvement in the treatment of the disease and identified a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, Legend Biotech, as a potential strategic partner. In 2017, the companies entered into a global agreement to develop, manufacture, and commercialize this novel cell therapy, which became known as ciltacabtagene autoleucel (cilta-cel). As Janssen and Legend Biotech continued to advance its innovation, JJDC facilitated several steps to enable the company to grow and strengthen its financial position. In March 2020, JJDC was one of the investors in Legend Biotech’s $150.5 Million Series A financing round, helping the company raise the funds necessary to advance the research and development and commercialization of its pipeline programs and expansion of manufacturing facilities. In June 2020, JJDC and other Series A investors facilitated the IPO of Legend on the NASDAQ – one of the most impressive public market debuts for a biotech company in 2020. Legend Biotech is now worth approximately $4 billion, with a team of over 800 employees across the United States, China, and Europe. Cilta-cel has received Breakthrough Therapy Designations in the U.S. and China, orphan drug designations in the U.S and Europe, and a Priority Medicines Designation in Europe, demonstrating the cutting-edge nature of the therapy and the fact that it targets a high unmet medical need. Janssen working together with Legend Biotech continues to advance this differentiated technology, the global development, and manufacturing capabilities to deliver an innovative cell therapy for patients in need. The journey of Legend Biotech


JJDC working together with Janssen Oncology identified in Legend Biotech a company with a cutting-edge therapy and potential to improve outcomes for patients with relapsed, refractory multiple myeloma. By helping Legend raise the necessary capital to accelerate their pre-clinical and clinical pipeline and in guiding them through a very successful IPO, JJDC is helping them advance their mission to help those who struggle with multiple myeloma and other diseases.


Asish Xavier,  Ph.D.Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC, Inc.


Hear what Ying Huang, CEO of Legend Biotech, has to say:

Yingn Huang Video


Aetion is a woman-led company that delivers real-world evidence by analyzing real-world data, such as electronic medical records, insurance claims, patient registries, and lab results to generate decision-grade evidence for regulatory, policy, pricing and other critical decisions. JJDC joined the company’s investment syndicate in August 2020 by participating in a $19 million Series B extension.  JJDC’s investment in Aetion gives JJDC the ability to provide strategic value and insights to help expand the use and utility of the Aetion platform. Datavant Holding’s mission is to help life sciences and healthcare organizations address the fragmentation of health data across institutions, which hinders medical research and patient care, by connecting the world's health data to improve patient outcomes. In October, JJDC participated in a $40MM Series B funding investment in Datavant; the funding will enable the company to advance its work to expand the open healthcare data ecosystem and reduce the friction in the exchange and linking of healthcare data.

Stay Connected in 2021

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