Santa Clara University

Rick Johnson

Executive Fellow


Rick Johnson currently has several roles. He is the CEO and Founder of Global Helix LLC, a consulting and government strategy firm based in Washington, D.C. that focuses on: (1) strategic policy issues related to S&T policy, innovation, the globalization of R&D, energy and green growth, intellectual assets for sustainable growth, and public-private partnerships; (2) the internationalization of research universities and public-private research networks for addressing societal grand challenges and economic development; and (3) new types of technology platforms and policy tools to meet societal needs.  Rick has worked extensively on the linkage of global developments and strategies with fundamental research, innovation and entrepreneurship.
After 30 years, he retired as Senior Partner in the Washington, D.C. office of Arnold & Porter LLP but continues to serve as Senior Counsel.  He specializes in: (1) legal and regulatory issues related to fundamental research, innovation and collaborative mechanisms; and (2) new research, public-private and multi-stakeholder mechanisms for linking fundamental research, entrepreneurship and innovation with emerging technologies for development, especially in the life sciences and in nanotechnology.
He served as General Counsel for International Trade at the U.S. Commerce Department, where he was responsible for both U.S. trade policy and international technology issues.  In addition to receiving his Juris Doctor degree from the Yale Law School where he was Editor of the Yale Law Journal, he received his M.S. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he was a National Science Foundation National Fellow and his undergraduate degree with Highest Honors from Brown. 
He serves as the Chairman or Vice-Chairman of three OECD/BIAC Committees: Technology, Biotechnology and Life Sciences, and Nanotechnology.  Rick also is a member of the MIT Corporation Visiting Committee, the Brown Corporation?s Advisory Council on Biology and Medicine and its Brain Sciences Institute, the MIT Global Innovation Initiative, and several advisory groups focused on the changing nature of S&T policy and innovation in a new era of convergence, complexity, and computation.  He participates on several National Academy of Sciences and Engineering panels and projects.  Rick recently served as co-reviewer and co-chair for the Board on Science, Technology and Economic Policy (STEP) at the National Academies and participated with the Board on Life Sciences in their recent strategic review of global engagement.  He also is a co-chair of the National Academies' synthetic biology project, a Director of the BioBricks Foundation, and a frequent participant with the U.S. State Department's S&T global outreach projects.  In addition to synthetic biology, he currently is involved in a number of global policy initiatives related to emerging infrastructure for global RD&D, new policy projects related to linking "big data" and societal grand challenges, and public-private models for converging technologies  to address global health needs.