J&J Opens Medical Device Center, Forms Partnerships With Hospitals

Houston—Johnson & Johnson Innovation is expanding at the Texas Medical Center with a newly open Center for Device Innovation being led by one of Houston’s most prominent surgeon-inventors.

William “Billy” Cohn, a cardiac surgeon and serial medical device entrepreneur, is the center’s first director. He had been at Baylor College of Medicine and the Texas Heart Institute, where he was the director of THI’s Center for Technology and Innovation and the Cullen Cardiovascular Research Laboratory. At the new CDI @ TMC, as the center will be called, Cohn will work on internal research and development projects for Johnson & Johnson medical device companies, as well as with external entrepreneurs in the healthcare community.

Cohn says he is looking forward to being able to leverage the considerable resources of the global multinational company that is J&J. “This gives me access to more talent, more ideas, and, operating underneath that banner, I’ll probably get to see a lot more stuff that I would normally not see,” he says. “This could help accelerate my own efforts to discover breakthroughs and advance them along.”

J&J says that the new center’s mission is to support medical device innovation from “concept to commercialization.” Notably, Cohn says the center will house an “accelerator/incubator” program scheduled to open up shop in the third quarter of next year. That program will have an engineering studio and maker space that will house J&J research and development staff.

The center has agreements that will allow collaboration with and access to preclinical facilities at Baylor, Houston Methodist Hospital, and THI to test novel devices for organ systems diseases. J&J’s staff, along with companies that it partners with, will also be able to use the Methodist Institute for Technology, Innovation, and Education, a virtual hospital and hands-on clinical training facility, which develops strategies to figure out how best to bring new device technologies into clinical practice.

For the Texas Medical Center, J&J’s announcement represents an expansion of the medical center’s efforts in recent years to make Houston a global hub of healthcare innovation. In the last year, the TMC has partnered with J&J to bring its JLabs program to Houston, as well as with AT&T, which opened a Connected Health Foundry in Houston this summer.

“Working together, we are creating a globally competitive innovation ecosystem here,” Robert Robbins, TMC’s president and CEO said in a press release.

Angela Shah is the editor of Xconomy Texas. She can be reached at ashah@xconomy.com or (214) 793-5763. Follow @angelashah

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