Johnson & Johnson Innovation Announces Finalists of Cognition Challenge

Johnson & Johnson Innovation Announces Finalists of Cognition Challenge 
$100,000 awarded for solutions addressing Alzheimer's disease and cognitive 
SAN FRANCISCO, July 10, 2013 /CNW/ - In a collaboration led by its California 
Innovation Center, Johnson & Johnson Innovation today announced the finalists 
of the Cognition Challenge. The Cognition Challenge, a program supported by 
the Consulate General of Canada in partnership with Johnson & Johnson 
Innovation and its affiliate Janssen Research & Development, LLC, is a 
crowd-sourcing inspired challenge that invited Canadian researchers and 
entrepreneurs to submit their solutions to address problems of learning and 
memory related to Alzheimer's disease and cognitive disorders. 
The two finalists will each receive $50,000 from Johnson & Johnson Innovation 
to help them further research and develop their solutions as well as office 
and lab space for up to six months at the Canadian Technology Accelerator in 
San Francisco, a startup incubator supported by the Consulate General of 
Canada. Finalists will also benefit from consultation with technology and 
disease experts from Johnson & Johnson's California Innovation Center. The 
entrepreneurs retain their independence and ownership of their business 
"The Cognition Challenge inspired high-quality, novel approaches to cognition 
and Alzheimer's disease and we congratulate the finalists for their exemplary 
ideas," said Diego Miralles, M.D., head, Johnson & Johnson California 
Innovation Center. "The California Innovation Center looks forward to 
collaborating with these entrepreneurs in our effort to spur early-stage 
innovation through collaboration." 
The two projects selected as finalists of the Cognition Challenge are: 
3D Nuclear Telomere Imaging in Alzheimer's Disease, submitted by Sabine Mai, 
Ph.D., professor, Manitoba Institute for Cell Biology, Manitoba, Canada: a 3D 
imaging-based method to distinguish mild, moderate and severe Alzheimer's 
patients from age-matched controls. The method involves obtaining cells from 
cheek swabs and determining telomere cell signatures using 3D nuclear imaging 
and quantitative software developed at the Manitoba Institute for Cell Biology. 
CanDo: A Smart App for Cognition, submitted by Celina Berg, Ph.D., 
postdoctoral fellow, CanAssist, Victoria BC, Canada: a series of apps designed 
to improve the quality of life for people with cognitive disabilities by 
providing users with customized visual aids with ambient feedback and an 
easy-to-program planning interface for caregivers. One app will help users to 
break down tasks into simple steps using visual aids such as photos. The user 
or caregiver takes pictures of each step and then saves them for later use. 
The app also will include a wayfinding and tracking tool, and will leverage 
ambient feedback in the form of colors, music or avatars to help customize the 
user experience. 
The Cognition Challenge received 45 submissions, which were narrowed down to 
four semi-finalists who consulted with experts from the Johnson & Johnson 
California Innovation Center in preparing their final proposals. In addition 
to the two finalists, the following two semi-finalists were also recognized 
for their outstanding submissions: 
Eyecelerate, submitted by Mohammad Najafi, Ph.D. candidate, CTO and Narges 
Afsham, Ph.D. candidate, CEO, NMotive Research, Inc., Vancouver BC, Canada: 
Eyecelerate provides a gaze-enhanced interface for handheld devices that can 
be used for early detection of Alzheimer's disease. Patients with Alzheimer's 
disease have an abnormality in automatic, but not controlled visuospatial 
attention. Studies have shown that eye gaze detection can be utilized as a 
preclinical marker for early detection of the disease. Eyecelerate tracks the 
user's gaze with a front-facing camera, which detects and measures the rapid 
movements of the eye while the user performs a visual task. 
PrediCog: Prediction of Cognitive Clinical Outcome of Preterm Babies from 
Diffusion MRI, submitted by Ghassan Hamarneh, Ph.D., professor, Simon Fraser 
University, Burnaby BC, Canada: PrediCog proposes creating software that 
quantifies brain connectivity using diffusion MRI datasets and connectivity 
patterns to highlight white matter abnormalities, and predict cognitive 
outcomes in premature infants. Detecting white matter abnormalities earlier in 
pregnancy allows for earlier rehabilitation and intervention options, and 
ultimately improves the prognosis and cognitive outcome of prematurely born 
babies. The team is developing mathematical models, computer algorithms and 
software that allows pediatric neuroradiologists to assess levels of white 
matter injury in babies born prematurely and predict (or manage) cognitive 
clinical outcomes, both from structural and diffusion MRI scans. 
Semi-finalists presented their final proposals on July 9, 2013 at the 
Challenge Forum in San Francisco. The finalists were selected by the judging 
panel, which included Lennart Mucke, director, neurological disease, Gladstone 
Institute; Karoly Nikolich, CEO, Circuit Therapeutics; and Nancy Stagliano, 
CEO, iPierian. 
The Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson have a longstanding 
legacy of advancing neuroscience research dating back to the 1950s, when Dr. 
Paul Janssen's discovery and development work led to one of the first 
breakthrough treatments for schizophrenia. Over the last half century, Janssen 
has discovered, developed and launched many innovative treatments for brain 
and central nervous system (CNS) conditions.  Globally, Janssen has committed 
more than $12 million annually to public and professional education 
sponsorships and philanthropy in the field of neuroscience and mental health. 
About Janssen Research & Development 
At Janssen, we are dedicated to addressing and solving some of the most 
important unmet medical needs of our time in oncology, immunology, 
neuroscience, infectious diseases and vaccines, and cardiovascular and 
metabolic diseases. Driven by our commitment to patients, we develop 
innovative products, services and healthcare solutions to help people 
throughout the world. Janssen Research & Development and Janssen Biotech are 
part of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies. Please visit for more information. 
About Johnson & Johnson Innovation The California Innovation Center is part of 
Johnson & Johnson Innovation, a division of Johnson & Johnson Finance 
Corporation. The center is one of four regional hubs being established in the 
world's leading life science innovation hotspots, including Boston, Shanghai 
and London. Johnson & Johnson Innovation focuses on accelerating early 
innovation and enhancing opportunities for collaboration and investment across 
Johnson & Johnson's global healthcare businesses. Johnson & Johnson Innovation 
provides scientists, entrepreneurs and emerging companies focused on 
early-stage opportunities a one-stop access to science and technology experts 
who can facilitate collaborations across the pharmaceutical, medical device 
and diagnostics and consumer companies of Johnson & Johnson. Johnson & Johnson 
Innovation includes local deal-making capabilities with the flexibility to 
adapt deal structures to match early-stage opportunities and establish novel 
collaborations that speed development of those innovations to solve unmet 
needs in patients.  Follow us @jnjinnovation on Twitter.  More information can 
be found here: 
Meghan Marschall, +1-201-323-0578, 
PRN Photo Desk, 
SOURCE: Johnson & Johnson Innovation 
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