J&J R&D exec Najat Khan — and data science — are getting an elevated role at the pharma giant
J&J R&D chief Mathai Mammen announced on LinkedIn that Najat Khan, who had been COO in the research arm, has been given the title of chief data science officer — fitting into a trend over the last 2 years as the major players in the industry look for new and better ways to manage the massive and growing volume of data now at their disposal.
Khan, he enthused, is bilingual in two key languages: the science of drug development as well as data sciences. And handled properly, that can guide R&D to more wins with lower costs — a longtime mantra in a world where ROI is generally sorely lacking.
Najat has built and continues to grow a world-class team that is extremely disciplined in picking the right high-value problems, determining the right datasets (internal and external collaborations), identifying the right analytical approaches to drive solutions with a test-and-learn mentality, and then scaling to maximize impact. These solutions result in programs that are faster or less costly (efficiency) or elevate the probability of success and increase output (effectiveness).
Part of Khan’s expertise lies in the field of AI, where drug developers have been turning to gain some fresh insights into which drugs should go into the clinic. Lowering the monumental failure rate would go a long way to fixing what ails many of these big players.
Khan got her PhD in organic chemistry at Penn and went on to become a pharma consultant at the Boston Consulting Group before joining J&J, where she had worked on data, strategy and operations.