Dr Hubert Schoemaker

Born 23rd March, 1950 (Deventer, The Netherlands) - Died 1st January, 2006 (Philadelphia, United States of America)

Schoemaker was co-founder and first Chief Executive Officer of Centocor, an American biotechnology company that pioneered the commercialisation of monoclonal antibody diagnostics and therapeutics.

This portrait photo was taken in 1992 showing Schoemaker in his capacity as Chief Executive Officer of Centocor. (Photo credit: Anne Schoemaker)

Family

The second of five children, Hubert Schoemaker came from a Dutch family with a long tradition of risk-taking, his father having abandoned a physics degree to join the Dutch resistance movement during the Second World War. During his childhood Schoemaker became fascinated with business, inspired by his father's co-founding of a successful international company manufacturing chemicals, food additives and other products. Schoemaker married twice, the first to Ann Postorino, with whom he had four children, and the second to Anne Faulkner who helped him live with brain cancer for 12 years.

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Education

Schoemaker was initially educated at a local Catholic school and then a Jesuit-run boarding school. When 18 he took the unusual decision for his peer group not to study in the Netherlands and to instead study chemistry at Notre Dame University, USA. Thereafter he opted for a doctorate in biochemistry at MIT over a degree at Harvard Business School. He completed his doctorate within three years, concentrating his research on transfer ribonucleic acids under the guidance of Paul Schimmel, a leader in the study of genetic code and the mechanism of protein synthesis. While studying for his doctorate he undertook part-time courses at the Sloan School of Management. Inspired by all the biotechnology being undertaken at MIT and through meeting others from places such as Stanford University, Schoemaker developed an interest in finding avenues for the commercialisation of biotechnology.

Career

In 1975 Schoemaker declined post-doctoral positions, including one with Stanley Cohen, the co-developer of recombinant DNA and another with Klaus Weber, a close colleague of James Watson who was based at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, to enter the world of business. His initial job, with AIM Packaging, a low-tech manufacturing company, was cut short when his first child was diagnosed shortly after birth with severe disabilities due to lissencephaly, a rare brain malformation. Profoundly moved to help others by his daughter's mental and physical disabilities, in 1976 Schoemaker joined Corning Medical where took the lead to develop several pioneering diagnostic tests based on immunoassays. He was instrumental in the development of the company's diagnostic tests for hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism and cortisol. One of the most important of these was the free T4 assay, which continues to this day to be used for measuring blood thyroxine levels, an indicator of hyperthyroidism. In 1979 he co-founded Centocor, one of the first American biotechnology companies dedicate to commercialise monoclonal antibody diagnostics and therapeutics. He also founded Neuronyx in 1999 with the objective of the development of bone marrow stem cells for therapeutic applications.

Achievements

Whilst at Corning Schoemaker's work on this helped place Corning Medical's immunoassay diagnostics on the map. At Centocor Schoemaker helped forge the commercial application of monoclonal antibodies to diagnostics and therapeutics, resulting in the company's sale to Johnson & Johnson for $5.2 billion in 1999. Under his watch Centocor established a significant market share in cancer diagnostics and won approval for ReoPro, an anti-clotting drug, and Remicade, a blockbuster drug to treat Crohn's disease and rheumatoid arthritis. He also co-founded the Eastern Technology Council and Technology Leaders Venture Fund to promote biotechnology in Philadelphia and played a vital role in furthering the residential and educational care of disabled children through the Melmark organisation.

Hubert Schoemaker: timeline of key events

Schoemaker was co-founder and first Chief Executive Officer of Centocor, an American biotechnology company that pioneered the commercialisation of monoclonal antibody diagnostics and therapeutics. After Centocor was sold to Johnson & Johnson for $5.2 billion in 1999, Schoemaker founded Neuronyx to develop cellular therapies. One of the treatments pioneered by Neuronyx was the use of stem cells from bone marrow to help regenerate heart tissue damaged by heart attacks. 1950-03-23T00:00:00+0000Hubert's thesis was 'Investigations of structure function relationships of transfer RNAs and their complexes with alminoacyl transfer RNA synthetases'. He was supervised by Paul Schimmel, professor of biophysics and biochemistry at MIT and a leader in the study of the genetic code and the mechanism of protein synthesis. 1975-01-01T00:00:00+0000Hubert was over-qualified for the job, but saw it as an opportunity to learn some entrepreneurial skills.1975-01-01T00:00:00+0000Hubert took the lead in inventing diagnostic tests for hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism, and a serum-based test for cortisol. 1976-01-01T00:00:00+0000Hilary Koprowski, Polish-born virologist and director of the Wistar Institute, together with American entrepreneur Michael Wall establish Centocor with Dutch-born biochemist Hubert Schoemaker and American scientist Ted Allen. Located in Philadelphia, Centocor is the second American company established to commercialise monoclonal antibodies for medical diagnostics and therapeutics.1979-05-01T00:00:00+0000The Council was set up by the founders of Centocor Inc. and Safeguard Scientifics Inc. Its aim was to bring together regional technology companies in the Philadelphia area and leaders in sharing best practices. 1990-01-01T00:00:00+0000Developed to treat Gram-negative sepsis, Centoxin originated from research conducted by Henry Kaplan and Nelson Teng based at Stanford University. It was licensed to Centocor, a small biotechnology company in Philadelphia. Following the FDA's request for more information, Centocor watched US$1.5 billion of its market capitalisation disappear. The news also had a devastating impact on other companies developing monoclonal antibody drugs. 1992-02-20T00:00:00+0000As part of the deal Eli Lilly licensed Centocor's drugs Centoxin and ReoPro. The alliance with Eli Lilly was brokered by Hubert Schoemaker and Michael Wall. It helped rescue Centocor which was on the verge of bankruptcy following the failure to win FDA approval for Centoxin. 1992-07-17T00:00:00+0000To combat the cancer Hubert underwent intensive radiation treatment, chemotherapy and stem cell rescue.1994-01-01T00:00:00+0000Abciximab (ReoPro) approved by the FDA and European regulatory authorities to prevent blot clots during coronary artery procedures like angioplasty. The monoclonal antibody was originally developed by Barry Coller at State University of New York and commercially developed by Centocor. The drug showed for the first time that monoclonal antibodies could be used for the treatment of acute disease conditions. 1994-12-22T00:00:00+0000Remicade (infliximab) is approved for the treatment of Crohn's disease. Soon after Remicade wins approval for other autoimmune and inflammatory conditions including rheumatoid arthritis and ulcerative colitis. The drug, a monoclonal antibody against TNF alpha, a powerful promoter of inflammation, was developed in 1989 by Jan Vilcek and Jumning Le and developed in collaboration with Centocor, Marc Feldmann and Maini1998-08-01T00:00:00+00001999-01-01T00:00:00+0000Founded by Hubert Schoemaker, Neuronyx aimed develop stem cell technology to treat neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and brain cancer. 1999-01-01T00:00:00+0000Schoemaker was a Dutch biochemist who was co-founder and first Chief Executive Officer of Centocor, an American biotechnology company that pioneered the commercialisation of monoclonal antibody diagnostics and therapeutics. After Centocor was sold to Johnson & Johnson for $5.2 billion in 1999, Schoemaker founded Neuronyx to develop cellular therapies. One of the treatments pioneered by Neuronyx was the use of stem cells from bone marrow to help regenerate heart tissue damaged by heart attacks. 2006-01-01T00:00:00+0000
Date Event People Places
23 Mar 1950Hubert Schoemaker was born in Deventer, The NetherlandsSchoemakerDeventer, The Netherlands
1975Hubert Schoemaker completed his doctorate SchoemakerMassachusetts Institute of Technology
1975Hubert Schoemaker worked at AIM Packaging for 4 monthsSchoemaker 
1976Hubert Schoemaker hired by Corning MedicalSchoemaker 
May 1979Centocor foundedKoprowski, Schoemaker, WallWistar Institute
1990Eastern Technology Council foundedSchoemakerCentocor, Safeguard Scientifics
February 1992Monoclonal antibodies market crashed following FDA's call for more information for Centocor's drug, CentoxinSchoemaker, Koprowski, MilsteinCentocor, Wistar
17 Jul 1992Eli Lilly invested $100 million in Centocor in partnership dealSchoemaker, WallCentocor, Eli Lilly
1994Hubert Schoemaker diagnosed wtih medulloblastoma (brain cancer)Schoemaker 
22 Dec 1994First chimeric monoclonal antibody therapeutic approved for marketColler, SchoemakerCentocor, State University of New York
August 1998FDA and European regulatory authorities approved the first monoclonal antibody drug for an autoimmune diseaseVilcek, Le, Feldmann, Maini, SchoemakerNew York University, Centocor, Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology
1999Centocor sold to Johnson & Johnson for $5.2 billionSchoemakerCentocor
1999Neuronyx foundedSchoemaker 
1 Jan 2006Hubert Schoemaker died in Philadelphia, USASchoemaker 

23 Mar 1950

Hubert Schoemaker was born in Deventer, The Netherlands

1975

Hubert Schoemaker completed his doctorate

1975

Hubert Schoemaker worked at AIM Packaging for 4 months

1976

Hubert Schoemaker hired by Corning Medical

May 1979

Centocor founded

1990

Eastern Technology Council founded

Feb 1992

Monoclonal antibodies market crashed following FDA's call for more information for Centocor's drug, Centoxin

17 Jul 1992

Eli Lilly invested $100 million in Centocor in partnership deal

1994

Hubert Schoemaker diagnosed wtih medulloblastoma (brain cancer)

22 Dec 1994

First chimeric monoclonal antibody therapeutic approved for market

Aug 1998

FDA and European regulatory authorities approved the first monoclonal antibody drug for an autoimmune disease

1999

Centocor sold to Johnson & Johnson for $5.2 billion

1999

Neuronyx founded

1 Jan 2006

Hubert Schoemaker died in Philadelphia, USA