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Innovations for Vets: Lung Cancer & Physical Trauma


As a result of their time in service, Veterans are disproportionately impacted by certain diseases, with the prevalence of risk factors for chronic health conditions higher among the Veteran community compared with non-Veterans.

To further our commitment to keeping Veterans healthy and advancing healthcare innovation to the benefit of the military community, Johnson & Johnson Innovation, together with Johnson & Johnson Office of Military and Veterans Affairs, is proud to launch the Innovations for Vets QuickFire Challenge: Lung Cancer & Physical Trauma. Innovators are invited to submit potentially ground-breaking ideas that aim to directly address the unique healthcare needs of the military community including lung cancer and physical trauma.

The innovator(s) with the best potential solution can receive grant funding from a total pool of $500,000, access to the global Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JLABS (JLABS) network, and mentorship from experts at the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies (Johnson & Johnson).*

* Subject to the execution of the necessary documentation and (award) agreements.  

Why this challenge matters to us

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death in Veterans, despite being one of the most preventable cancers in the world. An estimated 15 Veterans die of lung cancer each day, and Veterans are 25% more likely to receive a lung cancer diagnosis compared to non-Veterans.

Smoking is the primary cause of lung cancer, with many Veterans reporting that they started using tobacco after entering military service, while exposure to radon gas is the second leading cause.  Exposure to environmental carcinogens such as asbestos, arsenic, chromium, nickel, tar, mineral oils, mustard gas, silica, diesel exhaust, ionizing radiation, and bis(chloromethyl) ether may also increase risk for lung cancer.

Veterans are also impacted by physical trauma, such as bone injuriessoft tissue damage, and incidental infections.

When applied appropriately, battlefield medical advances allow approximately 90% of combat casualties to survive their injuries. Regenerative medicine strategies, involving the combination of biomaterials/scaffolds, cells, and bioactive agents, have been of great interest especially for the repair of damaged bone and bone regrowth. Heterotopic ossification (HO) is perhaps the single most significant obstacle to independence, functional mobility, and return to duty for combat-injured veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Another byproduct of complex traumatic injuries sustained by military personnel, particularly when involving extremities, are infectious complications which can result in substantial morbidity. Furthermore, most procedures or treatment methods are unable to restore or sustain wounded tissue over the long term.

What we’re looking for

We are interested in ideas that aim to directly address the unique healthcare needs of the military community including lung cancer and physical trauma, such as:

Lung Cancer:

  •   New intratumoral agents and localized delivery of therapeutics:
    • New approaches including:
      • Cytotoxic agents with immunogenic cell death activities
      • Immunostimulatory agents
      • Cell therapies
      • Radio-sensitizers
    • Controlled release and localized depot intratumoral drug delivery technologies
      • Small molecule and protein
      • RNA delivery approaches
  • Technologies to enable local delivery procedures:
    • Pre- or peri-procedural assessment modalities for real-time diagnosis or characterization of tumor tissue mechanics and microenvironment
    • Intratumoral delivery devices or accompanying technologies that enable real-time monitoring of administration success and provide visualization of resulting drug location
    • Technologies to plan, deliver and monitor tailored treatments
    • Solutions to provide confirmation of treatment delivery and elimination of target

Physical Trauma:

  • Infection prevention & management resulting from open injuries or surgery
  • Advancements in treating physical trauma including bone regeneration and soft tissue management
  • Post-operative patient monitoring to enable rehabilitation


Potential solutions will be evaluated by a panel of reviewers and judges on their ability to meet the following criteria:

  • Uniqueness of the idea
  • Potential impact on human health, specifically the military-connected community’s health
  • Feasibility of the idea
  • Thoroughness of approach
  • Identification of key resources and plan to further idea