Skip to main content

Our Story

Our Founder


"There is so much more to be done - patients are waiting"

Dr. Paul Janssen

Our founder, Dr. Paul Janssen, was one of the most innovative and inspirational scientists of the 20th century. Through hard work, determination and passion, he achieved scientific breakthroughs in pain management, psychiatry, infectious diseases, mycology and gastroenterology. Over the course of his long career, Dr. Paul (as he was affectionately known by his peers around the globe) was granted more than 100 patents. Today, 18 of Janssen’s medicines are on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines.

Born on 12 September 1926 in Turnhout, Belgium, it was the experience of losing of his four-year-old sister to tuberculous meningitis that later drove Dr. Paul to pursue a career in medicine. In 1953, aged just 27, he founded Janssen Pharmaceutica N.V., a research laboratory based in Beerse, Belgium. There, he laid the foundation for more than 80 medicines that have now saved millions of lives.

Some of his notable discoveries that remain widely used today include an antipsychotic therapy, an anaesthetic and a treatment for diarrhoea. Dr. Paul also researched a series of compounds to treat HIV/AIDS. In his later career, he was determined to develop a medicine for multidrug-resistant tuberculosis. This compound was later discovered and developed by a Janssen research team. It was approved in the United States and the European Union in 2012 and 2014, respectively.

Janssen Pharmaceutica NV became part of the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies in 1961.Today at Janssen, we are committed to taking on the world’s most devastating diseases, with the goal of creating a future where disease is a thing of the past. Since then, we have continued to strive to bring solutions to the people who need them most, wherever they live. Our patients are waiting and there is no time to waste.

Learn more about Dr. Paul Janssen.

Our story in China

In 1985, Dr. Paul helped to establish a manufacturing arm of Johnson & Johnson – Xian Janssen Pharmaceutical Ltd. – in China. This was first healthcare company from the West to have a presence in China.

Dr. Paul was also known for his role in preserving the life-sized Terracotta Army – a true treasure of the World Heritage List. In the early 1990s, these famous terracotta statues from the tomb of China’s first emperor were threatened with decay caused by fungi. Dr. Paul spearheaded the effort to preserve these archaeological marvels by treating them with specially formulated fungicides prepared by Janssen Pharmaceutica. In addition, he set up a state-of-the-art microbiology laboratory at the museum to help with the preservation efforts for many years to come. Today, Janssen continues to assist other museums to preserve their relics.

Learn more about our efforts in preserving the Terracotta Army.