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Intervening Early to Improve the Trajectory of Health

Intervening Early to Improve the Trajectory of Health


Each time I pick up my mobile device, there’s a personal connection that motivates me to make the most of collaborations with entrepreneurs, innovators, patient advocates, academic researcher, health officials, and so many more stakeholders.

It’s my granddaughter’s blue eyes staring back at me. I keep her picture with me not only because of the incredible pride that I have as her grandfather, but as a constant reminder of the opportunity that we have to change the trajectory of health for future generations.

Ben and his granddaughter, Clara

We’re learning more through incredible science and technology about the influence the earliest days of life have in setting the course for future health. Imagine if we could understand an individual’s risk of developing a disease early, and then intervene to avert illness. It’s the approach of addressing the root cause of disease at its earliest stages – disease interception – that I shared last year at Slush, Europe’s leading startup and technology event, and that we believe will play an important role in making a difference for future generations at Janssen and Johnson & Johnson Innovation.

With this backdrop, we’re excited to head back to Slush next week (yes, we’re up for Helsinki again in November, Slush team!) – this time, to recognize and support visionaries who have been selected as finalists in the Next-Gen Baby Box QuickFire Challenge. This innovation challenge – to create the “Baby Box of the future” – is inspired by the 80th anniversary of the Finnish Baby Box, a maternity supply kit that, together with increased use of maternal healthcare services, has helped to significantly reduce the Finnish infant mortality rate. 1

The challenge has been centered on ideas and next-generation solutions with the potential to:

  • promote child health;
  • detect childhood disease earlier;
  • facilitate healthy parenting.

We aren’t doing this by ourselves, though. Janssen and Johnson & Johnson Innovation, in collaboration with Sitra, an independent public fund promoting the welfare of Finnish society, Tekes, the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation, and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, are all coming together to support this effort in hopes that it might inspire and uncover new opportunities to impact other childhood health issues, like Finland’s high rate of type 1 diabetes.2

As we work to transform human health through new and better ways to prevent, intercept and cure disease, working together and starting early are paramount in our charge to improve the trajectory of human health.

Through innovation experiences like the Next-Gen Baby Box QuickFire Challenge and global connections and collaborations, we are uncovering creative solutions, and encouraging people to think differently about healthcare, so that our grandchildren might witness the elimination of certain diseases as they grow older and one day raise their own children in a world without disease.

1Finland Health; Finland’s low infant mortality has multiple contributing factors;; Accessed 11/17

2Harjutsalo V, Sjöberg L, Tuomilehto J. Time trends in the incidence of type 1 diabetes in Finnish children: a cohort study. Lancet. 2008;371(9626):1777-1782;

Posted on November 22, 2017