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Paul Janssen

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Paul Adriaan Jan Janssen
Statue of Janssen in Beerse, Belgium
Born12 September 1926
Turnhout, Belgium
Died11 November 2003(2003-11-11) (aged 77)
Rome, Italy
EducationUniversité de Namur
Catholic University of Louvain
Ghent University
University of Cologne
Founder, Janssen Pharmaceutica
SpouseDora Arts
Parent(s)Constant Janssen
Margriet Fleerackers

Paul Adriaan Jan, Baron Janssen (12 September 1926 – 11 November 2003) was a Belgian physician. He was the founder of Janssen Pharmaceutica, a pharmaceutical company with over 20,000 employees[1] which is now a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson.

Early life and education[edit]

Paul Janssen was the son of Constant Janssen and Margriet Fleerackers.

He attended secondary school at the Jesuit St Jozef college in Turnhout, Belgium after which he decided to follow in his father's footsteps and become a physician. During World War II Janssen studied physics, biology and chemistry at the Facultés universitaires Notre-Dame de la Paix (FUNDP) in Namur. He then studied medicine at the Catholic University of Leuven and Ghent University. In 1951, Janssen received his medical degree magna cum laude from Ghent University.[2] He graduated with a postdoctoral degree in pharmacology at the same university in 1956, and studied at the Institute of Pharmacology of the University of Cologne.[3]

On 16 April 1957, he married Dora Arts.


During his military service and until 1952, he worked at the Institute of Pharmacology of the University of Cologne. After he returned to Belgium, he worked part time at the University of Ghent Institute of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, headed by Corneille Heymans, who had won the Nobel Prize for medicine in 1938.[citation needed]

With a loan of fifty thousand Belgian francs received from his father, Janssen founded his own research laboratory in 1953. That same year, he discovered ambucetamide, an antispasmodic found to be particularly effective for the relief of menstrual pain.[4]

In 1956, Janssen received his habilitation in pharmacology with pro venia legendi ("permission to lecture") designation for his thesis on Compounds of the R 79 type. He left the university and established what would become Janssen Pharmaceutica.[citation needed]

On 11 February 1958 he developed haloperidol, a major breakthrough in the treatment of schizophrenia.[5] Working with his team, he developed the fentanyl family of drugs and a number of anesthetic agents, including droperidol and etomidate.[6][7] One of the anti-diarrheal drugs he developed, diphenoxylate (Lomotil), was used in the Apollo program.[8][9]

In 1959, Janssen synthesized the potent opioid fentanyl based on SAR studies of meperidine.[citation needed] In the 1970s, he would improve upon the potency of fentanyl with the synthesis of Carfentanil.

In 1985, Janssen Pharmaceutical became the first Western pharmaceutical company to establish a factory in the People's Republic of China (Xi'an).[10] In 1995, together with Paul Lewi, he founded the Center for Molecular Design, where he and his team[11] used a supercomputer to search candidate molecules for potential AIDS treatments.[12][13]

Altogether Janssen and his cadre of scientists discovered more than eighty new medications, four of which are on the WHO list of essential medicines.[citation needed]

In 1991, he was elevated to the Belgian nobility by King Baudouin receiving the title of Baron.[citation needed]


Janssen died in Rome in 2003, while attending the celebration of the 400th anniversary of the founding of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, of which he had been a member since 1990.[14]

Popularity polls[edit]

  • In 2005 he finished as runner up, after Father Damien, in the poll for The Greatest Belgian organized by the regional Flemish television.[15]
  • On Wednesday 22 October 2008, Paul Janssen was awarded the title of Most Important Belgian Scientist, an initiative of the Eos magazine.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Paul Lewi, Obituary of Dr Paul Janssen (1926–2003), Drug Discovery Today, Volume 9, Issue 10, 15 May 2004, Pages 432–433
  2. ^ Dr. Paul Janssen, 77, Dies; Founder of a Drug Company - website of the newspaper The New York Times
  3. ^ Dr. Paul Janssen, 77; Founded International Pharmaceutical Firm - website of the newspaper LA Times
  4. ^ I. Oransky, Paul Janssen, The Lancet, Volume 363, Issue 9404, Pages 251–251
  5. ^ B. Granger, S. Albu, The Haloperidol Story, Annals of Clinical Psychiatry (after 1 January 2004), Volume 17, Number 3, Number 3/July–September 2005, pp. 137–140(4)
  6. ^ Stanley TH, Egan TD, Van Aken H (2008). "A Tribute to Dr. Paul A. J. Janssen: Entrepreneur Extraordinaire, Innovative Scientist, and Significant Contributor to Anesthesiology" (PDF). Anesth Analg. 106 (2): 451–62. doi:10.1213/ane.0b013e3181605add. PMID 18227300. S2CID 20490363. Retrieved 7 May 2011.
  7. ^ Lopez-Munoz, Francisco; Alamo, Cecilio (2009). "The Consolidation of Neuroleptic Therapy: Janssen, the Discovery of Haloperidol and Its Introduction into Clinical Practice". Brain Research Bulletin. 79 (2): 130–141. doi:10.1016/j.brainresbull.2009.01.005. PMID 19186209. S2CID 7720401.
  8. ^ "W. Royce Hawkins, M.D., John F. Zieglschmid, M.D., Clinical aspects of crew health". Lsda.jsc.nasa.gov. Archived from the original on 23 February 2012. Retrieved 12 March 2012.
  9. ^ "Apollo Medical Kits". History.nasa.gov. Retrieved 12 March 2012.
  10. ^ Magiels G, Paul Janssen. Pionier in farma en in China, Houtekiet, 2005
  11. ^ molmo.be Archived 31 July 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ Yven Van Herrewege, Guido Vanham, Jo Michiels, Katrien Fransen, Luc Kestens, Koen Andries, Paul Janssen, and Paul Lewi, A Series of Diaryltriazines and Diarylpyrimidines Are Highly Potent Nonnucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors with Possible Applications as Microbicides, Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2004 October; 48(10): 3684–3689
  13. ^ "New AIDS Drug Discoveries To Battle Drug-Resistant HIV Strains". Sciencedaily.com. 20 August 2002. Retrieved 12 March 2012.
  14. ^ Neuropsychopharmacology (August 2004). "Thomas A Ban, Paul Adriaan Jan Janssen, 1926–2003, Neuropsychopharmacology (2004) 29, 1579–1580". Neuropsychopharmacology. 29 (8). Nature.com: 1579–1580. doi:10.1038/sj.npp.1300423. Retrieved 12 March 2012.
  15. ^ "De Grootste Belg". De Standaard (in Dutch). Retrieved 4 October 2011.
  16. ^ "Most Important Belgian Scientist". Picture.belga.be. 22 October 2008. Archived from the original on 20 February 2012. Retrieved 12 March 2012.

Further reading[edit]

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