Editor’s note: This story is part of our 2022 PharmaVoice 100 feature.
Developing personalized therapies such as CAR-T treatments is a tall challenge. But by working with cross-functional team members to think creatively and solve problems quickly, Dr. Jordan Schecter, Janssen Pharmaceutical’s vice president of cellular therapy, led the CARVYKTI (ciltacabtagene autoleucel) clinical program across the FDA finish line in February 2022.
The embodiment of a passionate physician scientist, Schecter’s practice at Columbia University was devoted to patients with multiple myeloma. He left clinical medicine in 2014 to join Janssen Oncology with a mission to develop new therapies for multiple myeloma.
“I still keep small mementos and other gifts I have received from patients over the years,” he says. “These help to remind me every day that patients are waiting for these new therapies, and we must keep working to meet their needs.”
A visionary thinker, Schecter brings a pragmatic balance of energy and wisdom in the search for promising solutions for patients with multiple myeloma. He thinks deeply about the science, examining data and potential study designs with a critical mind, while working with Janssen Oncology to identify the best strategies for advancing innovation.
As Schecter worked on late-stage development of CARVYKTI for patients with relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma, his team faced multiple complexities — conducting a global registrational study during a pandemic with constant changes in the supply chain, import and export restrictions, quarantines, and staff shortages at research sites.
But through it all, Schecter relied on his standout leadership style, striving to be inclusive to make every member of the team feel valued. In meetings, he makes sure to call on all stakeholders in order to build consensus, and he aims to be approachable by serving as a role model throughout the organization. Colleagues note at the end of the day, it helps to know the boss’s foremost question will be: “Did we do the best we could for this patient?”
“My role in pharma is devoted to developing new therapies for myeloma.”
Dr. Jordan Schecter
Vice president of cellular therapy, Janssen Pharmaceuticals
Paying it forward also matters to Schecter, who says nothing fills him with more pride than seeing his direct reports get promoted and establish teams of their own.
As a leader, Schecter says it’s important to know when to give that big-picture perspective and when to go down into the technical aspects of the job. As he puts it: “When you’re a dance instructor, know when to actually go down on the dance floor and show people what to do, rather than trying to give instructions from the balcony.”
Having worked across multiple projects, Schecter says if he was a brand, it would be something akin to Amazon.com, which is constantly adapting to meet the needs of the customers it serves.
“I feel that my career in pharma has been similarly adaptable, moving from one product to another and really needing to stretch to acquire new skills to meet the needs of the team,” he says.