Our people

Women who are leading the way

From researching new medicines to fighting for health equity, these colleagues are making an impact around the world

March 9, 2023

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Women make an essential impact at our company every day — as innovators, leaders, mentors and trailblazers. Here’s a look at stories about just a few of the colleagues whose work powers our purpose to use the power of leading-edge science to save and improve lives around the world.

Read on to find out how they’re leading the charge and lighting the path for others along the way.


Leading by example: Cristal Downing, Caroline Litchfield and Jennifer Zachary

Three of the top executives at our company recently were named among the most important women in leadership roles across the U.S. “It comes as no surprise to me that we have three of the most influential women executives in corporate America working right here at Merck,” said Chairman and CEO Rob Davis. Read more

three Merck executives - Cristal Downing, Caroline Litchfield and Jennifer Zachary


Accelerating our groundbreaking research: Denarra Simmons

Simmons, a senior scientist, is driven by a desire to help people and make a difference in society. “When you find out a medicine you worked on has helped so many people, you feel really special and you know all the work has been worthwhile,” she said. Read more

smiling woman wearing lab coat and goggles


Championing gender equality in science: Small molecule process research & development team

Women scientists have historically been underrepresented in the field of process research and development — the space between drug discovery and manufacturing. However, over the past seven years, the percentage of women on this team has nearly doubled and continues to grow. Read more

4 Merck women scientists


Helping to close gaps in care for underserved communities: Josette Gbemudu

Gbemudu is motivated to ensure everyone has the chance to be as healthy as possible. As an executive director of health equity and social determinants of health, she takes pride in giving a voice to those who may not traditionally have had a seat at the table. Read more

Josette Gbemudu sitting


Building a more inclusive workforce: Celeste Warren

As vice president of diversity and inclusion, Warren leads our efforts to create an environment of belonging, engagement, equity and empowerment so that together, we can help ensure better health outcomes for patients. “When every single employee embraces a mindset welcoming diversity and inclusion and can fully appreciate the experiences of others, better discussions, decisions and outcomes will certainly follow,” she said. Read more

Celeste Warren


Developing women leaders: Nicoletta Luppi

Luppi, the first woman to serve as managing director of our company in Italy, is committed to developing women leaders and achieving gender diversity. Thanks to her leadership, we were one of the first companies in the country to eliminate the gender pay gap. Read more

Nicoletta Luppi