How Data Science Is Ushering in a New Era of Modern Medicine – Johnson & Johnson

It used to be that the process of understanding a disease could be slow and laborious. Years ago, to see if their hypotheses bore out, scientists often had to sort through and review data by hand to start building a clearer picture of how diseases behaved.

Today, thanks to cutting-edge tools and applications in data science, researchers can grasp the way a disease behaves on a much swifter timeline. Think about it: Just two years after the emergence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and COVID-19 (the illness it causes), scientists already know a great deal about how the virus infects the body, how to help treat it and how to lower the risk of severe disease—thanks in no small part to the unprecedented sharing of data among researchers from all over the world.

“An analogy to looking through large sets of data for clues about treating diseases is finding the needle in a haystack,” says Michael Morrissey, Global Head, Early Detection & Data Science, Lung Cancer Initiative at Johnson & Johnson. But by applying “rigorous statistical methods,” he says, “data scientists hope to figure out exactly where that needle is.”

At Johnson & Johnson, these rigorous methods may help pave the way toward improving treatments for—and potentially even intercepting the onset of—many deadly diseases.

“We are leveraging data science from the discovery phase—when we figure out what’s driving a disease—all the way to the stage when we make a medicine available to patients,” says Najat Khan, Ph.D., Chief Data Science Officer and Global Head of Strategy and Operations for Research & Development at the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson. “We currently have over 120 projects ongoing, covering about 90% of our pipeline. We’re coupling cutting-edge analytical approaches—like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, real-world evidence and digital health—with a massive amount of anonymized patient data being analyzed to gain transformational insights and drive concrete impact for our pipeline and for patients.”

Lung cancer, pulmonary arterial hypertension and diversifying clinical trials are just three areas where this cutting-edge work is taking place. Here, we explore how the company is leveraging data in these spaces to drive innovation and help change the way doctors identify, manage and treat disease.

Finding Lung Cancer Before It Spreads


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Catching lung cancer early can make all the difference for a patient’s prognosis. In the United States, only 7% of people whose lung cancer has already metastasized at diagnosis are still alive five years later.

And yet detecting lung cancer early can be difficult. Symptoms such as persistent cough or fatigue can be vague and mirror signs of other conditions. By the time a patient is symptomatic, the window of opportunity to intervene with favorable long-term outcomes may have closed. And not everyone has access to screening resources they might need to find disease early, when it is most treatable.

But Johnson & Johnson data scientists are working to help reduce delays in diagnoses. Through the company’s Lung Cancer Initiative (LCI), researchers are harnessing data and technology to help doctors identify and treat lung cancer before it progresses.

What data science efforts like these are …….


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