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July 7, 2004

Former Merck CEO and Author Roy Vagelos to Speak at Special Falmouth Forum Presentation, July 14 at the Marine Biological Laboratory

WOODS HOLE, MA - Roy Vagelos, M.D., retired Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of the Merck pharmaceutical company and author of the recent book Medicine, Science, and Merck, will present a special summer Falmouth Forum titled "A Life in Science, Medicine and Drug Discovery" on Wednesday, July 14 at 7:30 p.m. in the Marine Biological Laboratory's (MBL's) Lillie Auditorium, MBL Street, Woods Hole. The lecture is sponsored by the Associates of the Marine Biological Laboratory and is free and open to the public. Dr. Vagelos will sign copies of his book, which will be available for purchase in the Lillie Auditorium lobby.

Dr. Vagelos’ lecture will focus on his life in science and as a long-time senior executive at Merck. His biography, Medicine, Science, and Merck, follows his life from childhood to retirement, from his academic years at the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University's Medical School, and Massachusetts General Hospital through his professional career at the National Institute of Health, Washington University, and Merck. Throughout, Dr. Vagelos never lost touch with his family values, his intense desire to help others, and his faith in the partnership principle and the competition that makes it work. Dr. Vagelos and co-author Louis Galambos offer an unusual perspective on working in three leading professions: medicine, science, and business.

Dr. Vagelos served as Chief Executive Officer of Merck & Co, Inc. from 1985 to 1994.  He was first elected to the Board of Directors in 1984 and served as its Chairman from April 1986 to November 1994.  He was previously Executive Vice President and, before that, President of the pharmaceutical giant’s Research Division, which he joined in 1975. During his tenure at Merck, Dr. Vagelos oversaw research that culminated in bringing to market a number of first-in-class drugs and compounds that were market leaders, including the cholesterol lowering drugs lovastatin and simvastatin. He also oversaw both the research and subsequent free distribution of ivermectin, an anti-parasitic agent, used for the treatment of ‘river blindness,’ which is now distributed in sub-Saharan Africa.

Earlier in his career, Dr. Vagelos served as Chairman of the Department of Biological Chemistry of the School of Medicine at Washington University in St. Louis and as Founding Director of the University’s Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences.  He had previously held senior positions in cellular physiology and biochemistry at the National Heart Institute, after internship and residency training at Massachusetts General Hospital.

The author of more than 100 scientific papers, Dr. Vagelos received the Enzyme Chemistry Award of the American Chemical Society in 1967. He was elected in 1972 to both the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and in 1993 to the American Philosophical Society. In 1989 he received the Thomas Alva Edison Award from then New Jersey Governor Thomas Kean, and has received 14 honorary doctorate degrees. 

Dr. Vagelos was Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania from 1994 to 1999, having served as a Trustee since 1988.  He also served as co-Chairman of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center and was President and CEO of the American School o Classical Studies in Athens.  Currently, Dr. Vagelos is a Director of the Donald Danforth Plant Sciences Center and a Trustee of the Danforth Foundation. He is also Chairman of the Board of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

The MBL Associates were founded in 1944 to provide an opportunity for friends of the Laboratory, both scientists and non-scientists, to support the MBL.  Over the years the Associates have taken on a wide range of projects, including providing fellowships for young scientists, supporting the MBL/WHOI Library, renovating the Lillie Auditorium, and landscaping the Whitman-Loeb quadrangle on the Woods Hole campus.  The Associates also help bring the work of the Laboratory to a broader public by sponsoring the Falmouth Forum Series and operating the MBL Gift Shop.  Membership is open to anyone with an interest in the Laboratory.