Recognizing the enormous therapeutic potential of stem cell research, Boehringer Ingelheim acquired the Belgium-based biotechnology company Global Stem cell Technology (GST) in July 2020. Prof. Dr. Jan Spaas, the founder of GST, and his team are now an integral part of the Animal Health team at Boehringer Ingelheim.

Prof. Dr. Jan Spaas was a professional show jumper and is a visiting professor for Veterinary Medicine at the University of Ghent, Belgium.
Jan, before joining Boehringer Ingelheim, you had already established a partnership with the company. Why did you decide to bring this partnership to the next level?

We had collaborated since 2018, so we felt that Boehringer Ingelheim is the perfect match for the ambition we have. We share the same culture, spirit, and desire for innovation with quality. Boehringer Ingelheim brings a lot of knowledge to the table, enabling us to accelerate our research.

How were your first months at Boehringer Ingelheim?

Becoming part of Boehringer Ingelheim is a big adventure for me. I have more than 51,000 colleagues now. Before, I had only 14. Since the acquisition, I have met many new people from a variety of different fields. Everyone is extremely supportive, giving me advice and insights, and asking how they can contribute most effectively to our endeavor.

What did you find most impressive?

Shortly after the acquisition, I visited the R&D site in Biberach, Germany, to get a better understanding of the research for Human Pharma there. The experience helped me to realize how close the synergies between Human Pharma and Animal Health can be. We are collaborating with the teams in Human Pharma in some areas on a regular basis now.

What are the benefits of these collaborations between Human Pharma and Animal Health?

We believe that there are a lot of synergies regarding stem cell therapies. For years, we have conducted research, development, and production to treat orthopedic and metabolic diseases in animals. But now, we are initiating some projects to which our colleagues from Human Pharma can contribute as well. This certainly shows a cross-fertilization between Human Pharma and Animal Health.

Is there anything more we can expect in the upcoming months?

In Animal Health, we are exploring cross-species scientific and therapeutic synergies. We used to have a strong focus on horses. But together, we can also look into new species now.