Agbiosciences Innovator John Swisher Honored as Watanabe Life Sciences Champion of the Year

BioCrossroads Board of Directors named John Swisher, founder of United Animal Health, the 2016 winner of the August M. Watanabe Life Sciences Champion of the Year Award, a prestigious honor named in tribute to BioCrossroads’ late Chairman August Watanabe, at today’s Indiana Life Sciences Summit.

BioCrossroads presents the Watanabe Award annually to an individual or organization that has made or enabled unique achievements in the development and promotion of Indiana’s life sciences research, educational or economic advancement.

United Animal Health, originally focused on swine research and pork production economics, has developed the largest swine nutrition research farm system in the U.S.’s animal nutrition industry. Swisher’s keen sense for emerging market trends and investment in research led to the creation of a system that would solve complex nutrition and production challenges for large pork producers across Indiana, the United States and around the world. Since founding United Animal Health in 1956, Swisher has cultivated a culture of innovation that over the years has transformed the way commercial pork producers do business and also revolutionized the industry. Some of his achievements include engagement in international joint ventures, investment in leading agtech companies, and donating much needed protein for underserved Indiana communities.

Over the last 20 years, United Animal Health has transitioned to a biotech-oriented nutrition company, which has developed FDA approved next-generation feed enzymes that have garnered high global market share for swine and poultry feeds.

“Ag-focused technologies form a leading component of Indiana’s diverse life sciences industry, and over the past 60 years, John Swisher has become an international icon for what it means to be a reputable, effective and visionary agbiosciences entrepreneur,” said David L. Johnson, President and CEO of Central Indiana Corporate Partnership and BioCrossroads. “He truly understands the importance of investing in the best people, research, and technology to spur innovation.”

Today, United Animal Health’s areas of expertise lie in research-based animal nutrition products, biotechnology applications in feed enzymes and microbials, livestock production, animal health products for swine reproductive efficiency and web-based data management systems for traceability applications in livestock production. Led by Swisher, more than 300 employees work together to develop some of the most extensive swine research facilities and capabilities in the world.

Currently, United Animal Health has 17 technology research centers and 18 production scale research facilities.

“John Swisher is undeniably a life sciences champion,” said Beth Bechdol, President and CEO of AgriNovus Indiana, a state initiative focused on the agbiosciences sector. “His innovative approach to research and business has not only revolutionized agricultural production practices, but has more importantly led to technologies and solutions that help address our collective challenge of producing more food with fewer resources.”

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

About BioCrossroads

BioCrossroads ( is Indiana’s initiative to grow, advance and invest in the life sciences, a public-private collaboration that supports the region’s existing research and corporate strengths while encouraging new business development.  BioCrossroads provides money and support to life sciences businesses, launches new life sciences enterprises (AgriNovus IndianaIndiana Biosciences Research InstituteIndiana Health Information Exchange,BioCrossroadsLINXOrthoWorx and Datalys Center), expands collaboration and partnerships among Indiana’s life science institutions, promotes science education and markets Indiana’s life sciences industry.