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Ruxandra Draghia-Akli, M.D., Ph.D.



Ruxandra Draghia-Akli, M.D., Ph.D., is Global Head, Johnson & Johnson Global Public Health R&D. In this role, Ruxandra and her team advance Global Public Health into the next era of innovation by leveraging critical discovery, development and regulatory capabilities across Janssen R&D.  She provides alignment with the overall end-to-end strategy of Johnson & Johnson Global Public Health, collaborating with the Infectious Disease & Vaccines Therapeutic Area and other Janssen R&D Therapeutic Areas that have assets with potential application in global public health settings. She also collaborates with the J&J Innovation Centers and external partners to build important networks and identify new opportunities.

Ruxandra’ expertise includes more than two decades of impactful work within industry, government and academia. She served as Vice President for Public Health and Scientific Affairs with Merck & Co., contributing to Merck’s global vaccines pipeline and maintaining key partnerships with international organizations and the scientific community. Prior to her role at Merck, she worked with the European Commission, first as Director-Health, Directorate-General for Research and later as Deputy Director General, Directorate-General Research, overseeing programmatic, legislative, and research and innovation policy issues, and contributing to the Commission’s Health Programme, a strategy for improving public health, preventing illness and eliminating dangers to physical and mental health.

Prior to joining the Commission, Ruxandra spent nearly 20 years as a medical doctor and a researcher in Romania, France and the US. She holds a Ph.D. in human genetics from the Romanian Academy of Medical Sciences, University Carol Davila in Bucharest, where she also obtained her M.D. She participated in a fellowship program in the Genetics and Metabolic Pathology Department at René Descartes University in Paris, France, and completed her post-doctoral training in molecular biology at Baylor College of Medicine in the United States. Ruxandra has authored and co-authored more than 100 peered-reviewed papers and book chapters and holds more than 100 patents and patent applications in the areas of gene therapy, vector design, electroporation and other physical methods of delivery of macromolecules, novel vaccines and endocrinology. She is also the inventor of the first gene therapy product ever for use in farm animals. Ruxandra participated in the development and success of several global and European consortia and served on scientific boards, such as the international rare disease research consortium, or the Innovative Medicines Initiative.