Our people

Celebrating our Asia Pacific community

We’re committed to supporting and saluting our colleagues and the important work they do

April 27, 2022

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At MSD, embracing diversity is key to cultivating an inclusive environment where everyone can contribute their most innovative ideas. We celebrate and take inspiration from our global workforce while embracing and encouraging allyship.

Radhika and Moushmi
Radhika Balasubramani and Moushmi Culver

Through the work of our Asia Pacific Association (APA) employee business resource group (EBRG), we seek to serve the needs of our community members around the world as they help elevate our work and drive our organization forward. Going further than traditional employee affinity organizations, EBRGs connect colleagues and provide opportunities for business insights, talent development and social action.

“We believe cross-cultural understanding is not only good for employees but also good for business,” said Moushmi Culver, vice president, head of manufacturing strategy & business development, and executive sponsor, APA EBRG. “That’s why our APA group is so active in terms of community outreach and support, talent development, social responsibility, and business integration, where we can effectively leverage diversity and provide insights to drive our company’s competitive advantage in the marketplace.”

In their own words, some APA members share why this EBRG community is important to them:

Moushmi Culver

Moushmi Culver, vice president, head of manufacturing strategy & business development, and executive sponsor, APA EBRG

The last 2 years of challenges — the pandemic, social injustices and catastrophic events — have taught us the positive impact that our community can have on each of us. APA has helped in many ways, including educating us on social issues, providing support with career development, informing business insights and, most importantly, connecting us with each other. These connections – in a group that has so much geographic and cultural diversity within itself — are especially important now.

Radhika Balasubramani, director, global science, engineering and commercialization organization, and global co-lead, APA EBRG

Born and raised in India and a woman of color in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) field, I became the first in my family to achieve many milestones. This included moving to the U.S. to pursue my graduate degree and the first to work in a corporate environment. However, integrating into a new society and trying to be my authentic self can be challenging, especially while navigating a career and work culture.

Radhika Balasubramani

APA EBRG provided me with a safe space and a sense of belonging with a community of people who shared similar cultural backgrounds, professional experiences and challenges. At the same time, we are constantly seeking ways to enhance cultural competency – being aware of one’s own identity, cultural beliefs and values, finding commonalities, learning about the different cultures of our colleagues and celebrating our differences. We do this by organizing various cultural events, providing insights for our business, implementing professional development initiatives, like our mentoring program, and actively pursuing efforts to give back to the community. As an EBRG leader, I take great pride in knowing that I’m able to indirectly enable the career progression of our members and influence key business decisions to serve our global population.

Richard Huang

Richard Huang, associate director in Shanghai, China, supply chain management, and global co-lead, APA EBRG

As a second-generation, American-born Chinese, I had only “known” the culture through my upbringing but never experienced it firsthand. So, when I decided to pursue an assignment at our company in Shanghai, I was scared. But, I followed advice I received early in my career and have applied to all aspects of my professional development and decision-making ever since:  Do what scares you the most.

When I first arrived in Shanghai, I experienced culture-shock, but it then evolved into an enlightening and fulfilling experience. I have not only learned more about my heritage but also how I can use my diverse experiences and skills to make a meaningful impact on the business.

Now, with my unique geographical position, I’m able to help broaden our EBRG’s reach and support the community and business in the Asia Pacific region. We look forward to building a diverse and social community of future leaders and bring forth the greatest opportunities and growth in individuals, organizations and the business.

Our people

Living with type 2 diabetes in uncertain times

One man’s story of finding support for managing his type 2 diabetes during the pandemic

April 26, 2022

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More than a decade since his type 2 diabetes diagnosis, Barry Levine, who works in global customer insights at our company, has learned to manage his condition with the help of his family and friends. While his positive attitude and adaptable approach have often helped him manage a complex, chronic condition, these attributes became crucial during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Adjusting to a new normal

Because people living with type 2 diabetes are at an increased risk of serious complications from COVID-19, it was especially important for Barry to make adjustments to ensure he was protecting himself from potential infection.

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“It was a daunting task to determine how best to manage my type 2 diabetes while keeping myself safe by staying at home and social distancing.”

Barry Levine

“This meant I needed to adjust my everyday routine to include activities I could do at home – from ordering things like health care supplies online to taking walks around my neighborhood and joining online yoga classes.”

Celebrating everyday victories

For Barry’s family, friends and health care providers who are his biggest cheerleaders, showing support meant celebrating his everyday victories.

In previous years, Barry’s health care team encouraged him to do more exercise and choose healthy foods. And while he appreciated the encouragement, there were times when he felt he wasn’t doing enough. During the pandemic, his doctors acknowledged his efforts, big or small, which motivated Barry further and helped him feel good about his daily wins.

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“It’s not just looking down the road and trying to get one more day of exercise in. It’s also looking at today and celebrating what I’m doing, even with everything going on, to ensure I’m working on my health.”

Looking toward the future

It’s important that health care providers and patients keep up with their routine health care as a foundational part of maintaining wellness. Barry’s endocrinologist was always readily available and even made it a priority to see him for in-person visits throughout the year. The changes Barry made this past year to ensure he continued managing his type 2 diabetes showed him that no matter what life puts in front of him, he can adjust and successfully manage his condition. As everyday life starts to look more familiar, Barry is thankful for the ongoing support he receives.

*Barry’s story may not be representative of every patient’s experience.

Health awareness

Type 2 diabetes: A patient-centric approach to care

An informative Q&A with Dr. Sam Engel, associate vice president, cardiometabolic and women’s health at MSD Research Laboratories

April 26, 2022

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Dr. Sam Engel talks about the importance of taking an individualized approach to type 2 diabetes care.

How would you define patient-centered care and how does it differ for those with type 2 diabetes?

We use the term patient-centered care to describe an approach grounded in an individual’s goals and priorities, plus how their disease (e.g., type 2 diabetes) fits into their particular life. These insights guide a tailored strategy to help patients manage their disease for the long term – for those with a chronic, progressive disease such as type 2 diabetes, this is a critical step.

I remember vividly a patient who came to me and said, “I have diabetes, but I get so much joy out of life from food. Can you work with me so I can continue to get joy from food, but still manage my type 2 diabetes?” I learned a lot from that conversation. This patient taught me that once you know what’s off the table (literally!) in terms of care, then you can figure out what is possible.

But, these are not the only things we need to think about when it comes to patient-centered care. We also need to consider other factors that may impact a patient’s ability to manage their disease, which may include:

Health Literacy
Can they access, understand and apply health information?

Family and social support systems
Do they have a support network?

Financial concerns
Can they afford care?

How would you encourage health care providers to offer more personalized care?

Time is of the essence for everyone. I think providers need to plan for sufficient time to listen and empower patients as true partners in the process.

Also consider short, medium-and long-term strategies to help patients move forward, recognizing which goals are accessible now and which behaviors might take a long time to modify.

What steps can people with type 2 diabetes take to become more involved in their care?

I encourage patients to proactively communicate with their health care team. Patients can start by explaining their:

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Needs check mark
Desires check mark

I understand that type 2 diabetes can feel like a full-time job, but together with a healthcare professional, patients can act daily on their management plan.

How can family members play a role in helping people with type 2 diabetes?

As a chronic disease, type 2 diabetes requires many self-management decisions throughout each and every day, as well as performing complex care activities. Family members may be able to provide important emotional and practical support on issues related to diet and lifestyle, among other things, for those managing the disease. But remember, as your supporters, family members must remember to be sensitive to your choices and know when to be involved and when not to be involved.

At the end of the day, type 2 diabetes requires a very individualized treatment strategy. So, each person with diabetes needs to be vocal and tell providers and family members, “This is where I would appreciate your help.”

Innovation

The Vaccine Pioneers

Scientists who made giant strides in the fight against viral diseases and vaccine history

April 11, 2022

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The story of modern day vaccines began in 1796 when Dr. Edward Jenner inoculated 9-year-old James Phipps with cowpox as a way to protect him from smallpox. Jenner used the term “vaccination,” “vacca” being Latin for “cow.” In fact, it has been recognized for centuries that some diseases never reinfect a person after recovery. Smallpox was the first disease people tried to prevent by intentionally inoculating themselves with infected matter.

Dr. Edward Jenner inoculating 8-year-old James Phipps with cowpox
Dr. Edward Jenner inoculating 9-year-old James Phipps with cowpox.

Eight decades after Jenner published his findings, Louis Pasteur developed the first live attenuated bacterial vaccine. Attenuation is a process that weakens the bacteria or virus in a vaccine so it is less likely to cause disease, while still triggering an immune response similar to the natural infection. It would take many more decades for advances in basic and clinical research to make it possible for scientists to understand viruses well enough to begin developing vaccines that help protect against certain viral diseases.

Dr. Maurice Hilleman

The scientists who made giant strides in the fight against viral diseases included Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin. Dr. Maurice Hilleman, who led MSD’s Department of Virus and Cell Biology from 1957 to 1984, also belonged to that distinguished group of vaccine pioneers. Credited with helping to develop more than 40 experimental and licensed human and animal vaccines, Dr. Hilleman’s passionate commitment continues to inspire scientists in medical research laboratories to this day.

Dr. Hilleman was born and raised on a farm in Montana. It was a hard life, but a farm background was a great foundation for his later work. “When you are brought up on a farm, you have a lot of general knowledge,” he said. After graduating from the University of Chicago with a doctorate in microbiology and chemistry, Hilleman chose to work at a pharmaceutical company instead of academia.

Despite his many accomplishments, including helping to develop more than 40 human and animal vaccines, Dr. Maurice Hilleman’s name is virtually unknown by the general public and press. Yet his impact on public health is undeniable.

"His commitment was to make something useful and convert it to clinical use. Maurice's genius was in developing vaccines, reliably reproducing them, and he was in charge of all pharmaceutical facets from research to the marketplace."

Paul Offit

Director of the Vaccine Education Center, professor of pediatrics in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and Hilleman's biographer

In 1988, President Ronald Reagan awarded the National Medal of Science to Dr. Hilleman, and in 1997, he was honored with The Albert B. Sabin Gold Medal Award. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has called Dr. Hilleman “one of the true giants of science, medicine and public health in the 20th century.”

Father with child getting vaccinated

Vaccines: Our History, Our Legacy

Health awareness

‘Wonder Angie’ enlists her ‘super friends’ to fight oral cavity cancer

After receiving an oral squamous cell carcinoma diagnosis, a head and neck cancer survivor finds hope by embracing science, prioritizing mental health and leaning on her work family

April 8, 2022

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In 2017, Maria Angelica Rosario Marquez — or Angie, as she likes to be called— joined MSD in Colombia as a clinical data specialist. She had lost her father the year before and was looking forward to starting a new chapter. The novelty of that first year, however, was short-lived, as her mother was diagnosed with cancer in 2018.

Rosario spoke to her manager, and he encouraged her to put family first. She booked a ticket to Chile and was there to support her mother and sister during the illness and her mother’s passing.

Just five months later, 34-year-old Rosario was diagnosed with head and neck cancer, specifically squamous cell carcinoma of the tongue. Head and neck cancers can include cancers of the oral cavity, throat (pharynx), voice box (larynx), nose (nasal cavity), sinuses (paranasal sinuses), and salivary gland cancers.

It all started with a pain in Rosario’s tongue 

For a few months, Rosario felt a sharp pain on the right side of her tongue that made it difficult to eat or brush her teeth. She assumed it was caused by the stress of losing her parents, but the pain persisted. Her doctor took a biopsy, and in March 2019, he informed her of the diagnosis.  

“It was the most frightening thing I’ve ever felt in my life,” she said.

A week later, Rosario was in surgery. They made an incision on the right side of her tongue and removed the cancerous tissue. The surgeon also removed 21 lymph nodes on the right side of her throat and her salivary glands. A further analysis of the lymph nodes showed evidence of cancer, so her oncologist followed up with a treatment plan that included three chemotherapy sessions and 30 days of radiation on her neck and mouth.

The toll of treatment for oral cavity cancer

While each patient’s experience with treatment can be different, for Rosario, her mouth would burn; and it was a challenge to eat or speak ⁠— two of her favorite activities.

Her sense of taste was also impaired, which she said was distressing because of her love of food. The fact that chocolate, one of her favorite foods, tasted disgusting to her was heartbreaking.

“The doctor told me that he didn’t think I’d ever be able to speak well again. I told him that wasn’t an option because I love talking too much.”

Angie Rosario

When Rosario started to feel a deep depression, she prioritized her mental health and sought treatment from a psychologist, who taught her to focus on the present. Her psychologist encouraged her to visualize herself as a strong and healthy woman.

“I always say cancer was my teacher, it taught me how to live. If you have air in your lungs, you have everything you need,” Rosario said.

Hope and a welcome party from her work family

Rosario is grateful for the science and research that helped play a part in her treatment. As of the last visit with her doctor, she remains healthy with no evidence of disease. Rosario credits her work family at MSD for supporting her through much of her recovery. With the recent loss of her parents, her co-workers came to her aid with powerful emotional support that helped her through the toughest times. A lifelong collector of superhero toys, Rosario came back to the office to find her desk covered in dolls, figurines and other gifts. Inspired by Rosario’s courage, her colleagues even gave her a super-nickname: ‘Wonder Angie.’

Angie's desk filled with toys
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“I am thankful for the science and medicine that helped save my life,” Rosario said. “I can talk without pain and that’s amazing. I can brush my teeth every day, and that’s amazing. I can eat, and that’s amazing.”

Rosario has recovered her sense of taste, and she has blissfully returned to enjoying chocolate once again.

Innovation

Vaccines: our history, our legacy

MSD and its legacy companies have been working to discover and develop vaccines for more than a century

March 17, 2022

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"An epidemic of diphtheria is almost inevitable here. Stop. I am in urgent need of one million units of diphtheria antitoxin. Stop. Mail is only form of transportation. Stop."

Dr. Curtis Welch

This was the desperate radio telegram in January 1925 from Dr. Curtis Welch in Nome, Alaska, to all the major Alaska towns, to territorial Governor Scott Bone in Juneau, and to the U.S. Public Health Service in Washington, D.C. Diphtheria was spreading through the icebound community. Children had already died, and the local supply of diphtheria antitoxin had expired the previous summer.

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674 Miles
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5 Days
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300,000 Units
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More than a century of vaccines

In 1895, the H.K. Mulford Company began marketing the first commercially available diphtheria antitoxin produced in the U.S., the very medication that helped avert the diphtheria epidemic in Nome. Today, MSD has a significant presence in vaccine discovery, development and distribution in both human and animal health.

Dr. Maurice Hilleman

The vaccine pioneers

MSD’s Dr. Maurice Hilleman belongs to a distinguished group of vaccine pioneers — including Edward Jenner, Louis Pasteur, Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin. Dr. Hilleman is credited with helping to develop more than forty vaccines and his impact on public health is undeniable.

Protecting public health is a worldwide challenge

MSD is working with national health ministries and non-government agencies to help write new chapters in the public health success story through partnerships, demonstration projects, donation programs, and technology transfer agreements.

Our people

How Wilson, N.C., plays a critical role in our commitment to supply

Meet the North Carolina-based manufacturing team that’s producing and packaging our oral antiviral COVID-19 medicine

March 4, 2022

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From the earliest stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, we knew we had a responsibility to rise to the challenge of this unique moment. That’s why our teams mobilized like never before to ensure we were ready to address a global need.

In late 2020, our manufacturing teams began utilizing our global supply network — including sites in nine countries across three continents — to start production of our investigational oral antiviral COVID-19 medicine. This monumental effort made it possible for us to produce 10 million courses of therapy in 2021, with at least another 20 million on track for 2022.

A major part of that effort takes place in Wilson, North Carolina, where our colleagues are working tirelessly to carry out our mission and ensure supply during this crucial time.

“This is a perfect example of the company coming together as one team with a single goal,” said Francisco Toste, associate vice president, plant management at the Wilson site. “I am proud to work for our great company because of the impact that we make for patients around the world in helping them combat serious disease.”

Meet the team in Wilson behind this heroic effort:

Wilson, NC facility
Responsibility

Addressing health equity in the age of COVID-19

In this Teal Talks episode, health care influencers Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith and Dr. Aletha Maybank discuss how the pandemic has impacted health equity and disparities

March 4, 2022

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COVID-19 shined a bright light on issues related to health equity. The disproportionate effects of the virus were found early in the pandemic, with higher rates of cases and severe outcomes among minority ethnic groups.

According to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), in the U.K., Northern Ireland and the U.S., the risk for infection was twice as high for Black people and 1.5 times as high for Asian people than white people.

However, despite these somber figures, health disparities existed long before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I often remind people that COVID-19 did not create any of the inequities that we’ve seen, but it did take advantage of them,” said Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, the director at Equity Research and Innovation Center at Yale School of Medicine.

Nunez-Smith, as well as Dr. Aletha Maybank, chief health equity officer and senior vice president of the American Medical Association, recently joined MSD’s Dr. Mary-Ann Etiebet, assistant vice president for health equity, for Episode 4 of our Teal Talks series to discuss health equity: what it is, how we work towards it, and what it means to achieve it.

WATCH: Teal Talks Episode 4, Health equity and the opportunity to create change

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Transforming our systems and structures

Health inequities, described  by the World Health Organization as differences in health status or resources between populations, are created largely by social determinants of health — the social, economic and environmental conditions we all live our lives in. However, structural inequities — systems that organize power and resources unevenly across lines of race, gender, class, sexual orientation, religion and other forms of identity, are another major driver.

“There have been intentional policy decisions here in the United States, and dare I say around the world, that have systematically disadvantaged particular groups of people,” said Nunez-Smith. “We’re going to need intentionality around structures, around systems to really do that important redress.”

Health equity as a movement, not a moment

While the pandemic put a spotlight on health disparities, it’s critical to keep the attention and momentum going to make long-lasting change, said Maybank.

“We’re in a time of where the doors are open right now where we can talk about equity and we can talk about racism,” Maybank said. “But how do we set up the time right now to make sure that when that door does close — because oftentimes it will — what do we do and how do we move forward?”

The strategy to equity is one valuing all people equally, Maybank said, quoting Camara Jones, a renowned physician and civil-rights activist.  

“Understanding the historical context; how we got here as individuals, as institutions, and as a collective is really critical to understand how to move our equity strategy forward.”

Responsibility

Accelerating global access

Our company is collaborating with a range of partners to enable access for patients around the world

March 4, 2022

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At the outset of our research efforts for COVID-19, our company made clear its commitment to make any vaccine or medicine we develop for this pandemic broadly accessible.

Here’s how we have been working to fulfill that commitment:


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Responsibility

How we’re prioritizing supply

Learn how our teams mobilized like never before to ensure we were ready to address a global need

March 4, 2022

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From the earliest stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, we knew we had a responsibility to mobilize and innovate to rise to the challenge of this unique moment.

This is what we’re doing:

scaling up supply infographic

Download the infographic