Thsi article has been originally published at

Heather Barnes, external innovation lead EMEA at Johnson and Johnson Consumer Health, is a scientist who is truly passionate about consumer health. With her background in biochemistry and eye for identifying innovation trends, the future is bright at Johnson & Johnson Innovation.

After making her way from early-stage drug development research to her current role, Heather got straight to work on creating sustainable collaborations that made life better for people and their families.

I am fascinated by the breadth of my role, which encompasses self-care products, skin health, sustainability and much more. From the very beginning, I thought, ‘Right, I love this! It’s fast paced, challenging and something that I can put my experience toward.

Heather shared some of the exciting developments underway at Johnson & Johnson, including the company’s refreshed strategic innovation priorities and $800 million commitment to the Healthy Lives Mission for a healthy planet.

Having a real impact on consumers

A biochemist by background and training, Heather’s academic path included partnering with AstraZeneca in Sweden for her masters,  carrying out novel research as an early-stage drug discovery scientist. She considered several options as graduation neared, driven by her desire to see the impact of her work on consumers’ lives. Her top, and as it happened final, choice was Johnson and Johnson Consumer Health’s newly launched R&D Leadership Development Program.

Heather was one of two graduates hired into the programme, which entailed three different year-long roles. She rotated through regulatory affairs, external innovation, and self-care R&D. Upon completing the programme, she was thrilled to be offered her current position in external innovation.

Heather’s passion for integrated wellness goes beyond her day-to-day responsibilities. A true advocate for diversity and inclusion, she also sits on the EMEA Leadership Team for Johnson & Johnson’s LGBT+ employee resource group. She is continually seeking to partner with start-ups, academia and VCs as a core part of identifying innovations and developing external partnerships for Consumer Health, which includes self care, skin health and essential health.

The rapidly evolving consumer health space

Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health focuses its external innovation efforts on Self Care, which consists of allergy, smoking cessation, pain, digestive health, and cough and cold; and Skin Health, which includes acne, sensitive skin, skin protection and aging skin support. Each has its own innovation priorities, based on strong science and consumer need and these interests currently include novel delivery forms in allergy, devices for pain treatment and chronic pain solutions. Across all of its Self Care work, the priorities are connected at home devices, digital therapeutics and sensors for clinically relevant biomarkers. Technologies that are key across both Self Care and Skin Health include digitally enabled personalised solutions, new business models and sustainability solutions.

Within global external innovation the pharma, medical devices and consumer health businesses of Johnson and Johnson share the mission to innovate to transform health for humanity. The innovation centres are the collaborative interface with the external innovation ecosystem, bringing together the business development, JJDC corporate venture capital and JLABS incubator teams to accelerate the best science around the world. Between the distinct teams lie common interests that enable them to look at various technologies from diverse points of view and discover any correlations or commonalities across the different business areas.