Working with adult patients suffering from a debilitating disease is difficult. Working with children suffering from a debilitating disease?
“It’s devastating,” says Kerri Nottage, M.D.
During her days as a pediatric hematologist and oncologist at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Dr. Nottage — now the Global Medical Head, Oncology, at the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson — cared for kids who’d undergone stem cell transplants. While the transplants often worked, anywhere from 52% to 65% of those patients would go on to develop chronic graft versus host disease (cGVHD), a condition that occurs if the stem cells that cured the cancer start attacking the body’s healthy tissue.
“You just want to do better for those patients,” Dr. Nottage says.
Kathleen Lomax, M.D., a pediatric gastroenterologist and Medical Director, Immunology, at Janssen, relates to this sentiment, though her focus area within the company is slightly different: pediatric psoriatic arthritis (PsA), an autoimmune disease that causes chronic joint inflammation and swelling and can be difficult to treat.
“When you look at diseases in the pediatric population, they’re often more severe at presentation than what you find in adults, and it really pulls at your heartstrings,” says Dr. Lomax. “The need to develop medications for kids — ones that work and that they’re able to tolerate — is crucial.”
Read more at jnj.com to find out more about the work of these physician-scientists and what motivates them to keep fighting for children’s futures, in their own words.