Open Innovation

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Johannes Jansen: Knowledge Beyond Research

To him, knowledge goes beyond research: Dr. Johannes Jansen works at Bayer to find new solutions for pest attacks that can impact farmers’ harvests and is passionate about communicating scientific knowledge.

I’m working with molecules and with people – both have to be treated with customized care. This diversity is the most exciting part of my job.

Dr. Johannes Jansen connects molecules, data and people to find new pesticides.

See this little flask in my hand? It’s filled with an inconspicuous sticky oil. But creating this material required a dozen research steps. Every new substance has principally the potential to make a change in agriculture. If it runs successfully through the development process, we could use this substance in crop protection, which means that farmers can protect their crops from pests and increase their yields. Unfortunately, there is only a chance of about 1:100.000 that it gets there.

Getting to this point requires a massive amounts of highly complex research – which need to be iteratively designed. It´s a dynamic process often accompanied by serendipity and coincidence. On my quest for new insecticides, I need a dedicated group of colleagues: biologists, agro scientists, chemists and many others. Pest attacks in the different regions of the world are a target under constant evolution. And as a chemist in the lab, I need first class analysis and constant feedback about which pests will become important in the future of agriculture and how our current products on the market or in development are behaving. These assessments guide my research. Nevertheless, failures belong to this work. I’ve had to cancel projects in all stages of development. This part of my work can be frustrating at times, but the chance to succeed always keeps me going.

During my university studies, I worked in the chemistry lab, in collaboration with biochemists on cell cultures and at a botanical garden to breed tropical liana. That’s when I discovered my interest in all aspects of using naturally occurring substances. Natural compounds usually have very specific modes of action, so they provide opportunities for precisely targeting malaria or HIV for example. That´s what makes my job exciting: I constantly have to see things from a different perspective.

Spreading the Word

To me, it’s very important to communicate about science and the way scientists are working. For three years, I was devoted to build up and run the chemical part of “BayLab plants”, our laboratory for kids, in Monheim, Germany. Another exciting task during my career was coordinating the scientific exchange with our chemical research facility in Yuki, Japan. Besides management duties, I assisted many colleagues from Japan during their stay in Germany and eased their initial culture shock: From accompanying them to public offices to explaining the manual of German washing machines.  Diversity in any part of my work is what fascinates me at Bayer.

Besides my main objective as a researcher Bayer gave me the opportunity to support a development project in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to improve communication structures with the scientific world. The project is not just about financial aid; it also intends to help students at the University of Kinshasa, Chemistry department to gain access to basic things that are often missing – like sufficient access to high-speed internet. I´m convinced that knowledge is more precious than anything else. Sharing it is key to both parties on the long term.

Drive with Style

On a personal level, I love my classic French car: It’s a Citroen CX25 Prestige and very precious to me. The former President of France, Jacques Chirac, was chauffeured in a car like this one. Driving this car is as relaxing as my other way to spend leisure time: I grow more than 35 different fruits, vegetables and spices in my garden. My favorite vacation place is near Malaga in southern Spain. Whenever I’m there, I like to be active, discover the regional culture and go hiking and swimming regularly.

CV: Johannes Jansen

1977 High School diploma Bendorf (Germany)

1983 Master’s degree in Chemistry of the University of Muenster/Westfalen (Germany)

1988 Doctor’s degree in organic chemistry of the University of Muenster/Westfalen (Germany)

Since 1989 with Bayer AG:

Leader of a laboratory in herbicide research (9 years)

Leader of a laboratory in insecticide research (18 years)

Coordinator: Chemistry Monheim/Yuki (Japan) (9 years)

Team Leader Automatization in Chemistry (2 years)

Leader of a research project

Leader of a candidate project

Leader of a lead project

Responsible chemist at the Baylab Plants (student laboratory, 3 years)

Member of the Expert Club (since 4 years)

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