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Global Public Health
Working on Smart Solutions to Combat Nasty Bugs
Hanneke Schuitemaker

Doing research is wonderful. And making steps forward, even small ones, is always rewarding. Rewarding because of the potential impact on thousands, if not millions, of people.

When I had to choose what I wanted to be in life, I knew the field of medicine was for me. At that time I also knew that I was too impatient to be a treating physician yet wanted to have a significant impact on people’s lives. My biology teacher agreed with my self-diagnosis and recommended medical research.

Worldwide there are 1 billion cases of influenza, including 3-to-5 million cases of severe illness and 300,000 to 500,000 deaths every year. Influenza remains one of the most serious public health challenges and new therapeutic and preventative solutions are needed.

Yesterday, Science published results from pre-clinical research conducted by a team of Janssen scientists at the Janssen Prevention Center led by Jaap Goudsmit, in conjunction with The Scripps Research Institute, to determine whether it may be possible to develop a single “universal” vaccine against influenza strains.

This very early-stage and exciting research underscores the novel and diverse approaches we are taking across our therapeutics and vaccines research and development program to address serious respiratory infections such as influenza.

This is why I, along with thousands of other researchers at Johnson & Johnson, get up every day and do what we do. I am very proud to work in this field and privileged to work with such an outstanding team of scientists that are working hard to bring smart solutions aiming to transform disease protection and healthcare for people everywhere.

The next step in our journey is to determine if this early pre-clinical research can be replicated against influenza A group 2 and influenza B strains of the virus and, looking to the long-term, potentially developing an influenza vaccine that may help millions of people avoid these nasty bugs.