Johnson & Johnson's JLABS establishing pediatric research incubator at Children's National

J&J's newest JLABS location will open at Children's National, which is in the midst of building a new pediatric research and innovation campus on a 12-acre portion of the former Walter Reed Army Medical Center campus in D.C. (Children's National) (Children's National Health System)

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Healthcare giant Johnson & Johnson plans to open a 32,000-square-foot JLABS life sciences incubator at D.C.-based Children's National Health System's research campus, officials announced Tuesday. 

Children's National is in the midst of building a new $190 million pediatric research and innovation campus on a 12-acre portion of the former Walter Reed Army Medical Center campus in D.C. It also announced Tuesday it is receiving a $30 million financial gift from the United Arab Emirates to support the creation of the facility, the Washington Post reported.

The J&J incubator—which is J&J's 13th such location—will create space on that campus to co-locate startup pharmaceutical, medical device, consumer and health technology companies seeking to translate pediatric research into new treatments and technologies, officials said.

It is expected to open in 2020. 

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The partnership will help advance Children's boarder goal of creating an "ecosystem" around pediatric research in D.C., said Kurt Newman, M.D., president and chief executive officer of Children's National speaking at an event in D.C. Already, the health system receives the seventh-most National Institutes of Health grants for pediatric research, has the Children's Research Institute and Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation and has spun out about 20 companies. 

But it has greater ambitions to expand its research programs, specifically in pediatric genomic and precision medicine with its Center for Genetic Medicine Research and Rare Disease Institute serving as anchors. 

"The vision we pursued for this campus required a global innovation partner with a strong commitment to pediatric health and a clear understanding of the next big areas of opportunity for improving human health," Newman said. "We believe the JLABS model is exactly what is needed to help us drive discoveries that are then rapidly translated into new treatments and technologies."

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J&J's JLABS, which has other operations in San Francisco, Boston, New York and Shanghai, offers life science companies office space and shared laboratory equipment and business facilities. But it also helps link entrepreneurs in the region to additional resources, such as opportunities for funding and educational events.

Officials said they were drawn to the D.C. region because of its proximity to public and private research institutions and Children's investment in building on innovation specifically in the pediatric realm.

"The rich ecosystem of life science innovators across the D.C. metropolitan area, including the bright minds within both the private and public sectors, provides a network of connectivity that can spark new ideas and propel the next big breakthroughs in science and research," said Melina Richter, who is the global head of Johnson & Johnson Innovation—JLABS.

J&J also announced a quickfire challenge offering up to $150,000 in grant funding for novel ideas or technologies that impact pediatric oncology, pediatric surgical care or influenza.