The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft and Johnson & Johnson have jointly established the “Exploratory Healthcare Research Program”. “The objective of this strategic cooperation is to accelerate research and development in the health sector,” comments Hans-Jörg Bullinger, President of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. The program will promote projects at the Fraunhofer Institutes that aim to improve human health. The partnership with Johnson & Johnson is the first time Fraunhofer has enjoyed the support of a leading global player in the health care market. “We see this as a new model for efficient cooperation between Fraunhofer and industry,” Bullinger continues. “Once we have gained some experience from working with Johnson & Johnson, we may quite possibly enter into partnerships in other fields.” Prof. Rainer Fischer, director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME, believes that the cooperation holds tremendous potential: “The concept is not only fantastic, but unusual as well. Johnson & Johnson will be giving us financial and technical support without claiming legal rights to any of the research findings or patents. This partnership boosts our research and development activities in the field of health care.” The Johnson & Johnson Corporate Office of Science and Technology (COSAT) is equally satisfied with the decision. “We are very pleased to establish this collaboration with Fraunhofer and their outstanding research Institutes. We are committed to supporting innovative academic research groups worldwide to promote breakthroughs in medicine that contribute to improvements in human health,” said Dr. Joni Catalano-Sherman, Corporate Director of Johnson & Johnson COSAT. The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft and Johnson & Johnson have approved 500,000 U.S. dollars in funding for 2007. This sum is intended to support five or six projects with a budget of up to 100,000 U.S. dollars each. The research topics will be chosen jointly by the two partners. Task groups are currently submitting the first proposals. The program will sponsor clarifying empirical studies in the pre-clinical phase with the aim of developing new methods for diagnosing and treating kidney and lung complaints and diseases of the eyes and ears. The advancement of minimally invasive surgical techniques is an area of particular interest. Emphasis is also placed on projects which address the healing of diseased organs or morbid tissue. The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft will retain the legal rights to the research findings. After evaluating the program at the end of the year, the two partners will decide whether to pursue it any further and, if so, whether to allocate more funds. Johnson & Johnson is the world’s largest health care enterprise, with over 200 operating companies employing approximately 110,000 men and women in 54 countries throughout the world. Technologies for minimally invasive surgery represent one of the key areas of research for Johnson & Johnson in Germany. The company also manufactures products ranging from personal hygiene articles and medicated cosmetics to pharmaceuticals, surgical dressings and implants.
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