Biogen Idec has announced that Donald R. Johns, M.D., has joined the company as vice president, leading Biogen Idec’s amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) Innovation Hub (ALS iHub). The ALS iHub is a new, cohesive unit dedicated to accelerating the discovery and development of novel therapies for ALS by integrating research with clinical development. Dr. Johns reports directly to Alfred Sandrock, M.D., Ph.D., group senior vice president and chief medical officer.
In his role, Dr. Johns leads a group with expertise and unique skill sets that span translational science and technology, neurology research, experimental medicine, clinical development and business development. The ALS iHub seeks to create a new model for developing ALS therapies by incorporating the latest science, technology and advances in clinical trial design.
“We are committed to bringing critical therapies to ALS patients as quickly and efficiently as possible. Don’s experience as a clinician and researcher, his dedication to patients, and his successful track record make him a perfect addition to help us achieve this goal,” said Dr. Sandrock. “Under Don’s leadership, I believe that the ALS iHub model will drive meaningful innovations in ALS discovery and development.”
Dr. Johns has spent more than 30 years researching and developing medicines for patients with neurodegenerative diseases. He has contributed to several successful New Drug Applications and has 14 patents in his name that are either issued or pending.
“ALS is a disease with a devastating impact for patients and their families and one where urgent progress is needed to improve patient outcomes,” said Dr. Johns. “With the ALS iHub, we have the opportunity to integrate our existing understanding of ALS with new approaches and technologies to catalyze the effective drug discovery and development of new treatments for ALS.”
Dr. Johns joins Biogen Idec from Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, where he held multiple positions over the past decade, including vice president and global head of Neuroscience Translational Medicine. While at Novartis, he was responsible for neuroscience strategy, including the selection of targets and clinical indications, and he oversaw numerous First-in-Human studies and conclusive Proof-of-Concept studies.
Prior to working at Novartis, Dr. Johns held positions at the Center for the Integration of Medicine and Innovative Technology and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. He has also held teaching roles at Harvard Medical School and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr. Johns graduated from Yale University School of Medicine in 1983. He completed residency training at Massachusetts General Hospital and become board certified in Neurology in 1989.