Ag Pioneer Named Life Sciences Champion

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Swisher is a member of the Indiana Business Hall of Fame. Swisher is a member of the Indiana Business Hall of Fame.

An Indiana life sciences leader focused on feeding a growing global population is the winner of the 2016 Watanabe Life Sciences Champion of the Year Award. Sheridan-based JBS United founder John Swisher was honored today at the Indiana Life Sciences Summit in Indianapolis. He says continuing advances in agriculture, including high-tech equipment, seed engineering and animal nutrition will be key to addressing the global challenge of how to "feed people without money" in regions including Africa and Asia.

JBS United initially focused on swine research and pork production and has developed what it bills as the largest swine nutrition research farm system in the U.S. industry. Over the last 20 years, the company has grown its biotech interests, leading to FDA-approved feed enzymes designed to increase global market share for swine and poultry feeds.

Swisher says the technological advances in agriculture since his start in the industry have been incredible. "My grandfather harvested about 30 bushels per acre in the 1920s. The government figures 174 bushels (per acre) this year for a corn crop. That's amazing progress."

Swisher founded JBS United in 1956 as United Feeds. Since then, the company has emerged as a global ag innovation leader, with more than 300 employees working at 17 technology research centers and 18 production scale research facilities in 23 countries. BioCrossroads Chief Executive Officer David Johnson says Swisher "truly understands the importance of investing in the best people, research and technology to spur innovation."

In November, Swisher became chairman emeritus of JBS United. Doug Webel was named president and CEO, marking the first change at the top since the company's founding more than 50 years earlier. At the time, he said, "I couldn't be happier with our leadership team at JBS United and am confident in the next 60 years of the organization."

Previous Watanabe Life Sciences Champion of the Year award winners include:

Leonard Betley, retired Chairman, President and CEO of Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation

Richard DiMarch, Standiford H. Cox Professor of Chemistry and the Linda & Jack Gill Chair in Biomolecular Sciences at Indiana University. Co-founder of Ambrx, Inc., Marcadia Biotech, Calibrium and MB2.

Dane A. Miller, founder of BioMet

Bill Cook, founder of Cook Group

Lilly Endowment under the leadership of Chairman Thomas Lofton

Phillip Low, Ralph C. Corley Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Director of the Purdue Center for Drug Discovery—Biochemistry 

John Lechleiter, Chairman, President and CEO of Eli Lilly and Company

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