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Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014

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Merck establishes professorship in chemistry

Princeton University today announced that a new professorship in chemistry has established by The Merck Company Foundation to honor Arthur A. Patchett of Princeton's class of 1951. Patchett is a research chemist and former vice president of medicinal chemistry at Merck.

The Arthur Allan Patchett Professorship in Organic Chemistry will be created with a $3 million gift in recognition of Patchett's distinguished career at Merck, which spans more than four decades. A chemistry major at Princeton, Patchett graduated Phi Beta Kappa and went on to receive his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Harvard University in 1955, working in the laboratories of Nobel Laureate R. B. Woodward.

During his career, he conducted groundbreaking research that led to the development of several major cardiovascular drugs, including the ACE inhibitors enalapril and lisinopril, and the HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors lovastatin and simvastatin. Although Patchett retired last year, he still plays an active role at Merck as a consultant.

"Art Patchett played an absolutely pivotal role in the invention of some of the most important and widely used families of drugs available today. We conservatively estimate that literally hundreds of thousands of people throughout the world are alive today directly as a result of the therapeutic agents that Art helped to pioneer," said Thomas N. Salzmann, Ph.D., senior vice president for basic research at Merck's research laboratories in Rahway, N.J. "We are delighted to establish this Chair at Art's alma mater in recognition of a truly remarkable career in science."

George McLendon, chairman of Princeton's chemistry department, noted that Patchett has been a remarkably devoted and inspired scientist. "We are delighted that Merck has chosen to recognize Dr. Patchett's accomplishments by strengthening the relationship between Princeton's chemistry department and Merck in this tangible way," he said.

A search will begin next summer for a leading scholar to fill the new chair in synthetic organic chemistry. Research will focus on the creation of organic molecules that can be used for pharmaceuticals and other purposes.

The Patchett professorship complements Princeton University's efforts to advance research at the interface of biology and chemistry and to train future chemists in synthetic approaches to biologically interesting molecules.

Contact: Marilyn Marks (609) 258-3601

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