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Celebrating the life of trailblazing cardiovascular researcher Dr. Arthur Patchett

Over the course of his career with Merck, Dr. Patchett changed the treatment paradigm for cardiovascular disease

January 11, 2023

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Arthur Patchett

The ongoing crusade against cardiovascular disease wouldn’t be where it is today without the breakthrough research of Dr. Arthur Patchett, who retired from Merck in 2000 as vice president of medicinal chemistry. He had been with the company for 44 years.

Dr. Patchett passed away at the age of 93 in December 2022 after a storied career that led to some of the most significant medical innovations of the 20th century. His career began with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Princeton University and his studies as a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Cambridge. He earned his Ph.D. in chemistry from Harvard University, followed by a two-year post-doctoral fellowship at the National Institutes of Health before joining our company as a research chemist in 1957.

Enduring impact in our work for people with heart disease

As head of Merck’s medicinal chemistry team, Dr. Patchett was instrumental in the synthesis and development of several important advancements in the prevention and treatment of heart disease, including the first statin to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The breakthroughs Dr. Patchett helped discover ultimately became some of the most widely used treatments in the world. He was also an early pioneer in structure-based drug design, which continues to be a foundational element of modern drug discovery.

“Art’s seminal achievements have an enduring impact and are an inspiration to us all as we seek to build upon his work to further improve treatment options for people with heart disease,” said Dean Li, president, Merck Research Labs.

Arthur Patchett
Dr. Patchett received the Merck Directors’ Scientific Award in 1987 and 1989

Dr. Patchett received the NAS Award for Chemistry in Service to Society from the U.S. National Academy of Sciences in 2007, and in 2011 was named a Fellow of the American Chemical Society. In 2001, the Arthur Allan Patchett Professorship in Organic Chemistry was established at Princeton University in recognition of his distinguished career at Merck.