Now I Know What a Mouse Brain Looks Like


This week, 3CMGM hopped on a bus and drove all the way over to Beerse, where the biggest site of Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is located. We were welcomed at the Headquarters with coffee and tea in a nice, cosy lounge. Once everyone was ready to get going (aka when everyone was caffeinated), we headed off to the first part of the company visit: the company presentation.

First we were told a bit about the history of Janssen, which is a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson. It is very impressive how far Janssen has come in only 60 years time. The company, which is named after its founder, was started by Dr. Paul Janssen in the early 50s. With his very first research he was able to develop a medicine which caused pain relief, especially for menstrual pain.

Ever since the start of Janssen Pharmaceuticals, over 80 medicines were developed, of which 14 in the last six years. Today, Janssen is one of the top 10 Belgian companies with the best reputation in Europe, Japan and the USA. In addition, it’s also in the top 10 fastest growing companies in its sector. Johnson & Johnson is the biggest healthcare company in the world! I was very proud to be welcomed so warmly and to be treated so professionally in such a successful company!


What I like about Janssen as a company, is their sincere focus on the health and well-being of their patients. They emphasize this in everything they do. Janssen is also very ambitious: they want to get cancer under control, develop a vaccine that cures 95% of Hepatitis C cases and erase the HIV virus from the planet (or at least make the treatment more comfortable and affordable for patients).

After we were told how much is invested in R&D, innovation and development of the average medicine (which really is a lot!) and what the latest product launches and collaborations were (eg. for the Ebola vaccine development Janssen works together with a/o WHO and Crucell), we headed off to a tour of one of the facilities on the site in Beerse.

We were shown several labs that all looked the same, but where very different kinds of research were performed. We got to see a mouse brain, which is very tiny and white, but looks a lot like a human brain in terms of shape. At the end of the tour, we saw how rats were affected when they are injected with specific kinds of medicine (which was actually kind of funny, even though I am not at all in favor of testing chemicals on animals).


After a sandwich lunch, we had the opportunity to talk with some AMS alumni who now work for J&J. They talked about how they got their job, what it was like working at J&J, and what we should look out for when we start applying for a job in general. My personal favorite conversation was with an alumni from 3CMGM, because we could link a lot of what he said back to ourselves. Which is only logical, I guess.

Finally, I have learned that I want to work for an international company like Janssen, although the pharmaceutical business itself is not my field of interest. And now I know what a mouse brain looks like – and who else can say that?!