Robert Urban, PhD
Former Global Head of Johnson & Johnson Innovation, LLC
The Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (GSBS) is pleased to highlight alumnus Dr. Robert Urban. Dr. Urban, the 2004 GSBS Distinguished Alumnus, received his doctoral degree in 1986 under the mentorship of Dr. Lawrence Dreyfus in the Microbiology and Immunology Graduate Program. Dr. Urban also received the James W. McLaughlin Award for Research Excellence in Infection and Immunity. Following UTMB, Dr. Urban studied Structural Immunology at Harvard University where he was an Irvington Institute Fellow.
Since completing his post-graduate training, Dr. Urban has accrued more than 25 years of international experience in the healthcare industry and is recognized for his ability to take biomedical discoveries from the bench to the marketplace. Dr. Urban has held multiple founding positions and executive roles, including Executive Director of the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT and CEO of the intellectual property arbitrage organization Acretia, Inc.
Until his retirement in 2018, Dr. Urban served as the Global Head of Johnson & Johnson Innovation, LLC – J&J’s external R&D investment platform. Under Dr. Urban’s leadership, the J&J Innovation brand was launched and became the most recognized cross-sector leader in innovation, possessing a portfolio with more than 400 individual investments, including a globally distributed suite of incubators (JLABS) hosting over 300 start-ups and collectively generating a risk adjust enterprise value of over $5B.
In his remarks as the GSBS Distinguished Alumnus, he urged the GSBS graduating class to use their training and education “to tackle the world’s most challenging problems ... Science is a collaborative venture and leadership skills and collective energy are essential for success.” Dr. Urban expressed hope that UTMB graduates would understand the joy of discovery: “Find joy in your work and you too will be rewarded in remarkable ways.” Dr. Urban has generously shared his time with GSBS trainees providing career advice and mentoring, and the Graduate School is delighted to honor his many contributions. Congratulations Dr. Urban!