Merck, known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, today announced the appointment of Roger M. Perlmutter, M.D., Ph.D., as executive vice president and president of Merck Research Laboratories (MRL), effective April 15. Dr. Perlmutter will succeed Peter S. Kim, Ph.D., who has served in the role since 2003. To ensure a seamless transition, Dr. Perlmutter and Dr. Kim will work closely together for an initial period, after which Dr. Kim will remain with the company as an advisor until his retirement in August.

Roger M. Perlmutter (Photo: Business Wire)

“Roger is a world-class physician-scientist with a proven track record of leading large research organizations and delivering a broad and diverse pipeline of medicines,” said Kenneth C. Frazier, chairman and chief executive officer, Merck. “With his deep knowledge of the ongoing changes in the industry’s external environment and their implications for how we use R&D resources, Roger is ideally suited to lead Merck’s global research and development. I am confident that under Roger’s leadership, Merck will continue to build upon our legacy of translating cutting edge science into medically important products that make a difference for patients.”

Dr. Perlmutter was executive vice president and head of R&D at Amgen Inc. from January 2001 to February 2012. During his tenure, Dr. Perlmutter oversaw the development and subsequent approval of a number of novel biologic and small molecule medicines in the areas of cancer, endocrinology, hematology, inflammation and osteoporosis. Prior to joining Amgen, he was executive vice president of worldwide basic research and preclinical development at Merck. He joined Merck as a senior vice president in February 1997.

Before assuming leadership roles in industry, Dr. Perlmutter was a professor in the Departments of Immunology, Biochemistry and Medicine at the University of Washington, where he also served as chairman of the Department of Immunology and was a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Dr. Perlmutter graduated from Reed College in 1973 and received his M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from Washington University in St. Louis in 1979.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to return to Merck and to lead MRL,” said Dr. Perlmutter. “Throughout my career, as both a physician and a scientist, I have drawn inspiration from Merck’s unwavering commitment to scientific excellence. Over time, this commitment has brought forth an unparalleled number of breakthrough medicines and vaccines that improve the lives of patients around the world.”

Mr. Frazier also reiterated Merck's commitment to delivering growth through innovation. “Merck continues to focus on increasing the productivity of our R&D investments to create value for patients, customers and shareholders,” said Frazier. “Under Roger’s leadership, we will continue to build and expand in key therapeutic areas, advance our promising late-stage candidates and bring forth new therapeutic candidates that will fuel our future pipeline.”

Dr. Kim joined MRL as executive vice president, Research and Development in 2001 and was appointed president of MRL in 2003. Prior to joining Merck, he served as a professor of biology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and was also a member of the Whitehead Institute and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. While at Merck, Dr. Kim served as a member of the Council of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, a member of the Board of Directors of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research and as a member of the Council of the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise.

During Dr. Kim’s tenure, Merck gained approval of more than 20 new medicines and vaccines that have sustained the company’s growth and significantly improved global health. These include JANUVIA (sitagliptin), the first DPP-4 inhibitor for type 2 diabetes; GARDASIL [Human Papillomavirus Quadrivalent (Types 6, 11, 16 and 18) Vaccine, Recombinant], the first vaccine for prevention of cervical cancer; ISENTRESS (raltegravir), the first HIV integrase inhibitor; ZOSTAVAX (zoster vaccine live), the first herpes zoster vaccine for the prevention of shingles in adults; RotaTeq (Rotavirus Vaccine, Live, Oral, Pentavalent), an oral vaccine for the prevention of rotavirus infection in infants; and VICTRELIS (boceprevir), the first oral hepatitis C protease inhibitor. As of Feb. 22, 2013, Merck has 38 candidates in late-stage clinical development (Phase II and III).

“Peter has helped sustain Merck’s commitment to outstanding science and innovation during a period of enormous change for our company and our industry,” said Frazier. “His contributions have positioned us well for future success. Over the past decade, Peter led MRL through an immense transition in pharmaceutical research and development, oversaw important advances in our use of new technologies, began leveraging external innovation and led the creation of an integrated, industry-leading pipeline following our merger with Schering-Plough.”

“I am deeply grateful to the incredibly talented and dedicated people of MRL who have worked with me over the past 12 years on our mission of delivering medicines and vaccines to improve human health around the world,” said Kim. “I am very pleased with Roger’s appointment and confident that he is the right person to lead MRL into the future, and am committed to ensuring a seamless leadership transition for this truly special organization and its great people.”