The Challenge

A first heartbeat. First smile. First step. The First 1000 Days of life are the most critical in human development. This unique window – from pre-conception through to the second birthday – immensely impacts the trajectory of health.
As the overall approach to healthcare transitions away from treating chronic disease afterit manifests and moves towards preventing disease beforeit begins, Janssen Research & Development, LLC and Johnson & Johnson Innovation, JLABS are calling on innovators to turn their attention to those crucial first years for mom and baby.  In the First 1000 Days QuickFire Challenge, we’re seeking game-changing ideas, with an emphasis on health technologies, which will lead to the prevention and interception of childhood disease and disorders at the earliest stages.

Submit solutions to impact the First 1000 Days to help every mother and child get their healthiest start possible.


  • Up to $250,000 in Grants
  • Mentoring from experts at Johnson & Johnson Innovation

Areas of Interest

The prenatal period of in-utero fetal development and programming and the First 1000 Days of life set a trajectory for health and a susceptibility for disease that may occur either in the childhood and adult years.

We’re interested in submissions addressing disease prevention and interception throughout the complete spectrum of the First 1000 Days, including pre-conception; conception; pregnancy; infancy; and early childhood (through the age of two years). 

Due to the exponential uptake of technologies such as smart phones and wearables, there is a growing opportunity to amass a myriad of types of data from the individual, family, and community to better detect disease risk. An emphasis on innovations incorporating health technologies will be considered.

Specific areas of focus include:

Healthy Development of the Vulnerable Child 

Factors such as nutrition, environment and quality care are important for healthy growth and thriving. The vulnerable child can have health disparities that lead to differences in mortality and disease risk related to behaviors, access to health care and social determinants of health. 


  • Approaches to predict trajectory for health/disease

  • Smoking Cessation/smoking and nicotine exposure

  • Optimal Sleep: Mother and Infant

  • Stress and Mental Health, including anxiety, depression, and mood disorders

  • Breast milk quality 

Childhood Food Allergy and Allergic Disease

The incidence and prevalence of food allergy, eczema, hay fever, and asthma have increased dramatically in children in recent decades.  According to, 1 in 13 children in the United States has a food allergy, and there is an increased prevalence in both developed and developing countries in recent decades.    

Priorities include: 

  • Novel approaches to detect risk of food allergy and/or atopy (e.g. eczema)

  • Novel decision support tools for food allergy and/or atopy

  • Novel approaches to prevent or intercept food allergy and/or atopy prior to its symptomatic state

Preterm birth

The world’s number one killer of young children is preterm birth (prematurity), with over 1 million children dying annually from direct complications of birth before completing 37 weeks of pregnancy, affecting 1 in 10 pregnancies both in the United States and worldwide, and increasing in incidence globally. Beyond direct complications, preterm birth is also associated with significant long-term morbidity and increases susceptibility for multiple childhood and adult diseases. Among African-American mothers, the rate of preterm birth is 50% higher than the rate among white mothers in the United States.

Priorities include:

  • Novel approaches for earlier detection of risk of preterm birth

  • Novel approaches to prevent microbiome or infection-related preterm birth 

  • Novel approaches to detect and prevent stress-induced preterm birth arising from maternal health behaviors including anxiety and depression, non-optimal sleep duration and quality, smoking, obesity and socio-demographic factors

  • Novel devices to prevent preterm birth

Childhood Obesity

Childhood obesity is an increasing public health issue. Worldwide ~ 340 million children are obese. It has been projected that ~60% of current two-year old children in the US will be obese by age 35 years. Childhood obesity predisposes to childhood-onset type 2 diabetes and adult obesity, which is associated with significant morbidity and mortality.  

The First 1000 Days is recognized as a critical period for the development of childhood obesity that is conferred by genetics, epigenetics, and environment by influencing expression of specific genes regulating metabolism, immune responses, and adipogenesis.

Priorities include:

  • Improved detection of risk of childhood obesity

  • Preconception, first trimester, neonatal/infant interventions for prevention or interception of childhood obesity

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

ASD is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder affecting communication and behavior with symptoms usually beginning in early childhood. CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network estimates that about 1 in 59 children are identified with autism spectrum disorder in the United States and occurs in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. Diagnosis is often delayed until after age 4 years though symptoms are often present in the first year of life and a diagnosis can be made usually by two years of age.  Early detection and diagnosis allows earlier intervention, which can greatly improve a child’s development.7

Priorities include:  

  • Earlier detection of ASD

  • Population screening for detection of ASD

Please keep in mind that no idea is too big nor too early for consideration. Applications that clearly describe a concept or path forward to achieve these goals will also be considered during evaluation. 


Hanson MA, Gluckman PD. Early developmental conditioning of later health and disease: physiology or pathophysiology? Physiol Rev. 2014;94:1027-76.

Hanson MA, Gluckman PD. Early developmental conditioning of later health and disease: physiology or pathophysiology? Physiol Rev. 2014;94:1027-76.

Child Health Disparities: What Can a Clinician Do? Cheng TL, Emmanuel MA, Levy DJ, Jenkins RR. Pediatrics. 2015 Nov;136(5):961-8. doi: 10.1542/peds.2014-4126

RubensCE, Sadovsky Y, Muglia L, Gravett MG, Lackritz E, Gravett C. Prevention of preterm birth: harnessing science to address the global epidemic.Sci Transl Med. 2014;262. Epub 2014.
Romero R, Dey SK, Fisher SJ. Preterm labor: one syndrome, many causes.Science. 2014;345:760-5

Lancet 2017;390:2627-42

N Engl J Med 2017; 377:2145-2153

Nestle Nutr Inst Workshop Ser. 2017;87:183-196.

Lancet. 2018 Aug 2. pii: S0140-6736

Application Process

Each baby has his or her own unique risk factor determined by both genetics and environmental risks. Socioeconomic factors may further increase risk and disease susceptibility. We’re specifically interested in technologies that monitor, assess, and provide insights to improve a mother and baby’s unique risk profile.

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

  • Novelty
  • Potential Impact
  • Feasibility/Practicality
  • Perceived Commercialization Potential
  • When applicable, use of health technologies to best monitor, analyze, and identify opportunities for disease interception during the first 1000 days.


Hanson MA, Gluckman PD. Early developmental conditioning of later health and disease: physiology or pathophysiology?Physiol Rev. 2014;94:1027-76.

Child Health Disparities: What Can a Clinician Do? Cheng TL, Emmanuel MA, Levy DJ, Jenkins RR.

Pediatrics. 2015 Nov;136(5):961-8. doi: 10.1542/peds.2014-4126



  • August 28, 2018: Applications Open
  • November 2, 2018: Deadline
  • Q1 2019: Winner Announced

Why this challenge matters to us

Through its World Without Disease Accelerator group, Janssen is working toward a vision of creating a world without disease. By bringing together distinct enabling capabilities in areas including the microbiome, immunosciences, predictive analytics and behavioral science, a team of experts is focused on seeding and accelerating transformative growth opportunities to catalyze a paradigm shift in health care through prevention, interception and cure strategies and solutions. Science indicates that some of these root causes may be initiated during the First 1000 Days.

Apply Now

Submit your idea today!