“Practical Pursuits and Re-Imaginings: Creating Patient Value Through Engineering”
Michael Thien, Merck & Co., Senior Vice President
Considerable efforts go into the discovery, selection and clinical development of new medical therapies and vaccines. Parallel to clinical development, engineering development is conducted to determine how products will reliably be made at commercial scale. Once commercialized, engineering work continues to ensure the success of technology transfers and address manufacturing issues. Discussion will address how engineering approaches from practical application of fundamentals to wholesale re-imagining of processes are being used across a wide spectrum of patient-valued products — from small molecules to antibodies to vaccines. Application of practical engineering approaches will be discussed for conjugate vaccines and virus-like particles. The engineering re-imagining of small molecule chemistry and continuous platforms for biologics production will be explored.
Mike Thien leads manufacturing systems design and commercialization at Merck & Co. Inc., a group responsible for developing the processes and methods for new products, new product technology transfer, deep scientific and engineering support for in-line products, new facility introduction and start-up, and development of the next and best practices for new facilities. Thien has worked in new product and process development, manufacturing operations and facility design and start-up at Merck for almost 30 years. After receiving his B.S. in chemical engineering from Caltech in 1982 and Sc.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in biochemical engineering in 1988, he joined the Merck Research Labs, working in vaccines and recombinant proteins. Thien was process development leader and plant start-up leader for the first effective commercial HIV protease inhibitor, CRIXIVAN, for which he was given his division’s top recognition. He also made key contributions to Merck’s JANUVIA, a treatment for Type II diabetes, and led the design of Merck’s commercial supply chain for KEYTRUDA, the leading immune-oncology agent. Thien has received awards from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, the National Association of Manufacturers’ Manufacturing Leadership Council and the American Chemical Society. He has served on advisory committees for the chemical engineering departments at MIT, University of Texas at Austin, Johns Hopkins and Tufts University, is a trustee for the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Rahway, and sits on the University of Delaware Biopharmaceutical Innovation Board and Ireland’s National Institute for Bioprocessing Research and Training board.
The Edward L. Paul Lecture on Industrial Chemical Engineering is endowed thanks to the generous past and continuing contributions of individual and corporate donors. The endowment annually supports an industry-focused chemical engineering seminar. The lecture series honors the late Edward L. Paul, a 1952 B.S. graduate of the chemical engineering program at UVA and 1995 winner of the UVA Engineering Distinguished Achievement Award.