The JLABS @ Washington, DC team has hit the ground running in their new home in the nation’s capital. This week, we sat down with Innovation Activation Specialist, Mikyla Tuggle, for a Q&A to learn more about her journey to JLABS, her perspective on what makes DC the “capital of inclusive innovation,” and for a preview into what’s in store for JLABS @ Washington, DC in 2020.
Mikyla hails from Detroit and attended college at Howard University in DC. Upon graduating, Mikyla took up a post at Live Nation Entertainment, where she discovered her passion for content development and event management. This fall, she joined the JLABS team to engage with the life science innovation community across the Washington, DC, Maryland, and Virginia (DMV) region, create programs aiming to foster the local entrepreneur ecosystem, and prepare for the facility’s grand opening in Q4 2020.
What are you most excited about in joining the JLABS @ Washington, DC team?
I think what excites me most about being a part of the JLABS @ Washington, DC team is the opportunity to play a role in helping innovators achieve their dreams. My favorite quote is from Walt Disney: “All of our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” I try to live by these words every day—it’s even written on the back of my JLABS business card! And, in a way, I believe it guides the core purpose of JLABS.
It’s JLABS mission to champion innovators so that they can chase their own dreams. To be on the JLABS team is to have a front row seat (and supporting role!) in helping the entrepreneurs to grow their companies. I look forward to seeing how startups connect and build their networks across the region—to see them walk through the JLABS doors with a great idea and to walk out, further along on their journey aiming to advance a life-changing breakthrough for patients.
How does someone who started her career working with rock stars end up in healthcare? How will your passion for the health industry guide your work at JLABS?
As a young child, I faced the reality of my grandmother slowly progressing to no longer remembering me. From a very young age, I experienced Alzheimer’s impact on patients, families, and caregivers. So I am acutely aware of the need for new breakthroughs—to find a cure that we don’t yet have and what that would mean for a family. When I saw an opportunity to work on the frontlines of healthcare innovation, and make a difference for families like mine, I had to say yes.
I am proud that the programming we are offering at JLABS is spurring conversations around this pursuit of new cures and disease prevention. Last week that took the form of a documentary film screening about antimicrobial resistance and tuberculosis—topics that often go undiscussed—and the need for increased efforts for supportive policy, advocacy, and innovation in this space.
If you had to describe the DMV innovation community in 3 words, what would they be?
Forward-thinking. Inclusive. Grounded.
DC really is a place unlike anywhere else. History is all around us—both in the past and in the making—and it's tangible to all of us here in the DMV. What strikes me is how everyone you meet is doing something, making something, striving for something, and I think this is partially due to a culture of inclusivity and belonging—a culture that has resulted in Mayor Bowser coining DC as the “capital of inclusive innovation.”
People in the DMV have a way of bringing together communities that support and raise up those with grit and passion. I believe you are only as strong as your community and support system. One of the reasons DC is a city of changemakers, I believe, is because we show up every day ready to find a way to collaborate for the greater good.
What is something you’re looking forward to in 2020?
With JLABS @ Washington, DC’s grand opening and Children’s National’s 150-year anniversary around the corner, we will have a lot to celebrate in 2020.
I’m also looking forward to continuing our JLABS @ Washington, DC programming next year with topics that focus on inspiring potential breakthroughs in pediatric oncology, tips for applying for a QuickFire Challenge, and more.
We also want to hear from you about programming you would like to see! In 2020, we will reach out to the DMV innovation community to gather input on topics they want to learn more about and how we can collaborate to build a stronger network in DC. Stay tuned.
The JLABS @ Washington, DC site will be open in late 2020 to pharmaceutical, medical device, consumer and health technology companies that are aiming to advance the development of new drugs, medical devices, precision diagnostics and health technologies, including applications in pediatrics. For the latest updates visit https://jlabs.jnjinnovation.com/locations/jlabs-washington-dc.
To mark the launch of the new JLABS on the Children’s National campus and the collaboration with BARDA, JLABS announced the JLABS @ Washington, DC Children’s QuickFire Challenge aiming to accelerate the development and commercialization of pediatric-centered healthcare innovation. For more information about the application process, please visit https://jlabs.tv/DC.