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Mission-critical innovation

Top talent and a culture of purpose-driven science are essential when the goal is to save and improve the lives of millions

Mission-critical innovation
Merck researcher prepares an apparatus for an experiment in Merck’s chemistry labs in Rahway, NJ.

Developing treatments and vaccines for some of the world’s deadliest diseases is challenging work, yet Merck has been doing it successfully for nearly 130 years. The secret is, in part, a common mission. Everyone at Merck, from scientists and researchers to engineers, clinical experts, salespeople, and quality assurance experts, are guided by a common mission: save and improve lives.

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Over the years, Merck has contributed to some of the most important scientific advancements in the history of medicine, including early work in antibiotics, game-changing cardiovascular treatments in the 1980s, critical drugs for HIV in the 1990s, and decades of meaningful research in vaccines, oncology, antimicrobials, and animal health.

Merck has earned the standing of #18 on our 2020 Top 50 Most Innovative Companies List as well as #1 in the Biotech category.

And, the legacy marches on. Merck is number one on the Fast Company list of “most innovative” businesses in the biotechnology category, in part for its work to address the Ebola virus in Africa. The drug giant’s pipeline has never been stronger, despite an increasingly challenging healthcare environment, says Roy Baynes, SVP of global clinical development at Merck Research Laboratories. With more than 1,000 cancer-related clinical trials underway, and more than 40 medicines in various stages of development, Merck innovation continues, with the purpose of improving our future.

The DNA of an Innovator

The foundation of Merck’s continued breakthroughs is research and development (R&D), Baynes says. The company is one of the industry’s largest investors in R&D and has spent more than $60 billion on research since 2010 and nearly $10 billion last year alone. Recently, it opened new research centers in Cambridge, Massachusetts, San Francisco, and London. Of its approximately 71,000 employees, more than 15,000 are researchers. This expansive team drives Merck forward, bound by a culture of innovation, purposeful work, and a commitment to serving patients.

Culture and caliber of talent are critical to innovation. Baynes says Merck recruits for excellence and invests in employee wellbeing and development. It also prioritizes diversity in its hiring and champions an inclusive work environment. Culture starts from the top and always has. In fact, the company still refers to a quote from George W. Merck, former chairman and son of the company’s founder: “Medicine is for the people.”

As such, Merck believes it has a responsibility to deliver its treatments and vaccines to the people who need them most, and to use its global footprint to strengthen health systems worldwide. For example, it has invested significant resources and partnered with multiple stakeholders in the fight against emerging global pandemics. The Merck for Mothers program also exemplifies its social mission. The

$500 million initiative aims to reduce maternal mortality and help mothers make informed choices, resulting in more than 9 million healthier pregnancies and safer deliveries across 48 countries.

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To Merck, science and innovation are tools best used for the good of humankind. Its expansive workforce shares a noble mission, a reverence for research and science, and a desire to better healthcare systems worldwide. Their work contributes to monumental discoveries that will usher in “a new age of scientific possibilities for patients,” says Baynes, and ensures Merck’s legacy of patient-driven innovation continues.

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