Believe in Your Science: Dr. Orquidea Garcia, JNJ

Orquidea (Orchid) Garcia

As a Johnson & Johnson Research Fellow and Lead for 3D Bioprinting and Tissue Regen Technologies, Orquidea (Orchid) Garcia is the technical lead for 3D bioprinting, and related tissue regen technology development. She is responsible for the evaluation and execution of technical strategies and new technologies integration to develop a new class of next-generation healthcare solutions. Orchid works closely with internal business partners, as well as technology, academia, and government partners to develop the CoE’s bioprinting capabilities.    

Orchid has extensive experience identifying novel technologies through scientific discovery and translating them into patentable, marketable technologies both in industry and academia. Having served as the scientific subject matter expert on numerous initiatives, she brings a keen understanding of world-wide technical, scientific, regulatory and policy issues that face the business. 

Previously, Orchid held various positions at J&J in Clinical Affairs and Regulatory Affairs. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry and Cellular Biology from the University of California San Diego; a Master of Science degree in Microbiology from California State University Los Angeles; and a Ph.D. in Medical Biology from the University of Southern California, Keck School of Medicine. She is a Fellow of the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM). Orchid is based in Irvine, CA. She will be speaking at the upcoming 3DHEALS event in San Francisco on September 26th, 2019.

Jenny: How did you first encounter bioprinting? What was that experience like? What were you thinking at that moment?

Dr. Garcia: I was first introduced to bioprinting during my doctoral and postdoctoral training in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.  At that time, bioprinting was a new and emerging technology that was always just out of reach of what I could fund with grant money.  I remember thinking that bioprinting had the potential to address many of the challenges encountered in traditional tissue engineering approaches. 

Jenny: What inspired you to start your career in bio-fabrication?

Dr. Garcia: I continued to watch the development of the technology, on the sidelines, throughout my academic and industry careers.  When Johnson & Johnson announced their intent to invest in developing world-class 3D printing capabilities, including in the field of bioprinting, I couldn’t resist jumping at the opportunity to get involved.   

Jenny: What motivates you the most for your work?

Dr. Garcia: The biggest motivations for my work are the patients who we hope will ultimately benefit from bioprinted products and solutions.  At Johnson & Johnson, we are always looking for ways to apply new technologies that deliver groundbreaking innovation that improves patients’ lives.  It’s an honor to be able to develop this technology at J&J and inspiring to know that bioprinting may one day have a transformational impact on patient care.

Jenny: What are the biggest challenges in your current work? What are the potential solutions?

Dr. Garcia: 3D bioprinting is an innovative and disruptive technology, so gaps currently exist in standards for medical/biological additive manufacturing, guidance documents for 3D printed devices and products containing biological components, ‘fit for purpose’ regulatory frameworks for personalized medical devices/products and manufacturing frameworks for these products.  Although these gaps present a challenge in terms of launching a product commercially, health agencies worldwide have begun working on ways to address these hurdles and have begun partnering with clinicians, industry stakeholders and academics to simultaneously develop regulatory frameworks alongside technological advancements so as not to delay the availability of patient access to innovative devices/treatments afforded through bioprinting.

Jenny: What do you think are the biggest challenges facing bio-printing industry? What do you think the potential solution(s) is (are)?

Dr. Garcia: From a technical perspective, the challenges bioprinting are those inherent with any biological system:  there are many different cellular responses that can occur for a myriad of reasons and understanding how cells will ultimately react within or to our engineered constructs will be important to ensure that we are enabling a regenerative response.

From a business perspective, it is important to tap into the top minds around the world to fully explore the potential of bioprinting, and Johnson & Johnson is doing just that.  We have established a collaborative laboratory with AMBER, the Science Foundation-Ireland funded institute at Trinity College Dublin. Our focus is on developing a deeper partnership in bioprinting to translate this important research into future innovation.

Jenny: What advice would you give to a smart driven college student in the “real world”? What bad advice did you hear that they should ignore?

Dr. Garcia: As far as advice, I would encourage other scientists to be fearless.  Believe in your science, and let your data guide you.  Accept the doubt of others as a healthy challenge and a gift, and use that to drive you. Challenges are hurdles that you can overcome, and never forget the impact your science will have on the lives of others.

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