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Rutgers understands why J&J made deal with Yale

In selecting a partner for its landmark agreement to share clinical data with outside researchers, Johnson & Johnson chose Yale School of Medicine

Why not Rutgers?

One might ask the question given the proximity of the company to the university — both based in New Brunswick — and Rutgers' effort to build credibility as a medical institution evidenced by its merger with the UMDNJ.

But J&J says there is no slight to Rutgers. Spokeswoman Seema Kumar said the company did not embark on a national search for an academic partner. She said the Ivy League university came to the fore because its Yale Open Data Access project, formed in 2011 by faculty committed to making clinical trials data more widely available to doctors and patients, is recognized as a leader in efforts to make drug research more transparent.

YODA has a model in place for evaluating requests, is advised by an external committee and has already inked a similar agreement with medical device manufacturer Medtronic.

“Yale has an excellent track record,” Kumar said. “We partnered with them knowing they are a leader in this field. Their program is already in place. We just had to do it.”

Kumar added that Yale approached J&J. Harlan Krumholz, director of the YODA Project, suggested the idea to J&J Chief Medical Officer Joanne Waldstreicher after a recent industry conference. Waldstreicher and Krumholz, former classmates at Harvard Medical School, are familiar with each other's work and instantly clicked, Kumar said.

Rutgers spokesman Ed Tate said the university was not aware that Johnson & Johnson was looking for a partner for such an agreement, nor is it bothered the company chose Yale. He said the university has an excellent relationship with J&J.

“Yale has a unique infrastructure in place for this new approach to sharing clinical data,” Tate said. “It's a valuable new tool for data research that clinicians worldwide can access, including Rutgers faculty.”

E-mail to: editorial@njbiz.com

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