Dr. Mathai Mammen, global head of Research and Development for the Janssen Pharmaceuticals wing of Johnson & Johnson, has been honored with the India Community Center’s annual Inspire award for his work in developing the single shot J&J Covid-19 vaccine, at the organization’s annual banquet Oct. 2.
ICC’s 18th annual gala was held virtually for the second time, in keeping with Covid-19 safety protocols, which discourage gatherings of large groups indoors. A friendly-but-competitive live auction, followed by a lively pledge drive, quickly raised more than $257,000 to support the community center, a second home to many Indian American seniors and youth. “J&J, BioNTech, and Moderna had never created vaccines before. But everyone saw the public health crisis that was happening — as 10,000 people died each day — and wanted to help,” said Mammen, who was interviewed at the gala by Divya Ganesan, a Stanford University freshman, and co-founder of Real Talk Ed.
“To think of making a vaccine in such a short time was unthinkable. This would typically be a seven-year process,” said Mammen, noting that 600 people at J&J mobilized on a 24-hour/seven days a week schedule to develop a vaccine. “We broke all our normal processes,” said the Indian American. “We had invested in good science that we put into play.” “The journey was unlike anything we had ever seen. For 14 months, no one ever took a day off. I don’t think the world recognizes what it took to make this vaccine,” said Mammen.
Dr. Mammen’s mission is to work with the best research and development professionals in the world to make meaningful medicines that impact the lives of patients, their families and communities. Prior to joining Janssen in June 2017, Dr. Mammen was Senior Vice President at Merck Research Laboratories, responsible for research in the areas of Cardiovascular, Metabolic and Renal Diseases, Oncology/Immuno-Oncology and Immunology. Jointly with his team, he initiated numerous new programs and progressed eight into early clinical development. He also nucleated a new discovery site in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Prior to Merck, Dr. Mammen led R&D at Theravance, a company he co-founded in 1997 based on his work at Harvard University. Under his leadership, the Theravance team of 200 scientists nominated 31 development candidates in 17 years, created three approved products (Breo®, Anoro®, Vibativ®), two additional assets that have successfully completed Phase 3 studies and a pipeline containing 11 further development-stage compounds in 2016. In 2014, he and the Theravance Leadership Team separated Theravance into two publicly traded companies: Innoviva (INVA) and Theravance Biopharma (TBPH).
Dr. Mammen has more than 150 peer-reviewed publications and patents and serves on various boards and advisory committees. He received his M.D. from Harvard Medical School/Massachusetts Institute of Technology (HST program) and his Ph.D. in Chemistry from Harvard University’s Department of Chemistry, working with George Whitesides. He received his BSc in Chemistry and Biochemistry from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.