Johnson & Johnson, UC Berkeley, UCSF collaborate on health research fellowship

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UC Berkeley and UCSF have collaborated with Janssen Research & Development LLC, a division of Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, to create the Data Science Health Innovation Fellowship.

According to Najat Khan, global head of strategy and operations at Janssen Research & Development, the fellowship will “inspire data-driven approaches to improve health and develop the next generation of leaders in healthcare data sciences.”

Fellows will be announced in September for the two-year program that begins this October and ends in October 2021, according to the program website. Fellows will be recruited in serial cohorts of up to five data scientists, Khan stated.

“Our fellowship program is located right in the heart of the most dynamic ecosystem in the world for data science, welcoming some of the best minds in the world to participate,” Khan said in an email.

Khan described data science as a “burgeoning field,” one that she said she hopes fellows will be able to use alongside life sciences in a “bilingual” approach to research projects that will further the medical field. Khan said in an email that this was one reason Janssen Research & Development chose to collaborate with UC Berkeley and UCSF, as she said Janssen Research & Development felt the two universities are already highly involved with this type of data science application.

During the program, fellows will collaborate with the Berkeley Institute for Data Science, or BIDS, at UC Berkeley and the Bakar Computational Health Sciences Institute, or BCHSI, at UCSF, according to Khan.

During the two-year program, fellows will receive mentorship from both universities to learn about various areas of medicine in which patients are underserved, though each fellow will likely have one university where they are “primarily situated,” according to Atul Butte, director of BCHSI. Janssen Research & Development will provide further mentorship in the “pharmaceutical industry and translational expertise,” according to the fellowship website. Fellows will also propose their own data-driven research projects based on the areas of unmet needs they study, according to Butte.

“These projects could include artificial intelligence-driven apps to inform patients about next steps in their treatment, or to give them early warning signs of disease, or new methods to manage and recruit participants for clinical trial,” Butte said in an email.

For UC Berkeley, according to BIDS Executive Director David Mongeau, the fellowship has the added value of being well aligned with one of UC Berkeley’s Signature Initiatives: “Charting a new course for health and wellness.”

Mongeau and Butte said they were excited for the addition of new researchers at UC Berkeley and UCSF, and Butte added that they hope the fellows will make steps toward improving health outcomes for individuals and populations.

“Our hopes are large,” Mongeau said in the email. “I know that we’ll all be working to deliver real breakthroughs for health and wellness both through developing research solutions and talent that only such an ambitious collaboration makes achievable.”

Contact Ella Langenthal at [email protected].