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Dr. Paul Janssen, Founder Janssen Pharmaceutica

Dr. Paul Janssen, Founder Janssen Pharmaceutica

Our founder, Dr. Paul Janssen (1926-2003), was one of the 20th century's most innovative and inspiring pharmaceutical researchers. He and his research teams at Janssen Pharmaceutica discovered more than 80 new interesting molecules. Breakthroughs that changed entire medical fields. At the time of his death in 2003, he held more than 100 patents and was a listed author on more than 850 scientific publications. He was the recipient of more than 80 medical prizes and held honorary doctorates and memberships in dozens of organizations.

One particular event during his youth changed his life: his four-year-old sister died of tuberculous meningitis, a loss that affected him deeply. Later in life, he said that this loss drove him to pursue a career in medicine. Dr. Paul saw patients waiting for medical cures and treatments, and he believed that only with a tenacious pursuit of science and novel molecules with a therapeutic promise he could save lives.

Independent research company

In 1953, he established a completely independent science-based research company with minimal financial resources.

People thought my plan was impossible. I was very young, and part of my motivation was to show that I was right, and the sceptics were wrong.

Paul Janssen

Founder of Janssen Pharmaceutica

He built a successful pharmaceutical company. It was here, in Beerse, that the treatment of schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders was revolutionized with compelling science. Anesthesia and the treatment of pain were similarly transformed thanks to Dr. Paul.

Legacy in mental health

Dr Paul worked tirelessly to find solutions for patients with mental illness and to promote neuroscientific research. In 1958 he ushered in a new psychopharmacological era with the introduction of the first antipsychotic treatments for schizophrenia. Since then, Janssen has continued to identify new and improved treatments. Today, neuroscience is still a spearhead of our research strategy.

Infectious diseases

Dr. Paul also worked on the development of the most widely used anesthetic worldwide, and even on a treatment for diarrhea, which is still sometimes a fatal disease in developing countries. He would also go on to research a series of compounds to treat HIV/AIDS. One of his last dreams was to find a medicine to treat multidrug-resistant tuberculosis. This medicine would only be discovered and developed after his death by a Janssen research team and was finally approved in the United States in 2012 and Europe in 2014.

Part of the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies

His successful breakthroughs soon brought Janssen Pharmaceutica to the attention of Johnson & Johnson. Janssen Pharmaceutica N.V. has been part of the Johnson & Johnson group of companies since 1961. In 1985, Dr. Paul set up Xi'an-Janssen Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., the first western pharmaceutical company in the People's Republic of China. Dr. Paul's interest in China would increase even more when several Janssen scientists devoted themselves to restoring the country's terracotta army. Watch this video to learn more about his resolve to help save China's national treasure.

Medicinal pharmaceutical approach

Today, Dr. Paul's legacy lives on at the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, which comprises more than 40,000 employees around the globe. Janssen is focused on finding new and better ways to prevent, intercept, treat and cure disease. Dr. Paul's colleagues have frequently speculated about the secret to his extraordinary productivity. Part of it is considered his devotion to Ehrlich's medicinal pharmaceutical approach and the systematic strategies he employed to explore the properties of new compounds.

As far as I know, Dr. Paul never started a project without a conception in his head, a conception that not only specified a chemical starting place, a 'lead' molecule, but he also embodied foresight of how his invention would deliver clinical utility.

Sir James Black of King's College London

in a personal appreciation of Dr. Paul Janssen in 2005

The Dr. Paul Janssen Award

Paul Janssen died unexpectedly at age 77 on November 11, 2003. He was survived by his wife, Dora, their five children, and 13 grandchildren—but also by an unmatched record of achievement in pharmaceutical science. The tribute that might best honor his innovative spirit is the Dr. Paul Janssen Award for Biomedical Research, which Johnson & Johnson founded in his memory in 2005 to "promote, recognize and reward creativity in biomedical research."

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