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Joseph P. Vacca, Ph.D.

Dr. Joseph Vacca earned his BS in chemistry in 1977 from St. John Fisher College, Rochester, New York, and obtained his Ph.D. degree in Organic Chemistry under Professor Peter T. Lansbury Sr. at the State University of New York at Buffalo (Buffalo, New York).

He joined Merck Research Laboratories in 1981 as a Senior Research Chemist and has contributed to several primary research projects including: the total synthesis of myoinositol polyphosphates; the discovery of orally bioavailable HIV-1 protease inhibitors, thrombin inhibitors, BACE inhibitors, HCV protease inhibitors and the discovery and development of HIV integrase inhibitors. His work on the HIV-1 protease project led to the discovery of Merck’s HIV protease inhibitor CRIXIVAN™ (indinavir sulfate). He led the HIV integrase discovery program and was co-chair of the early development team responsible for the development of the HIV integrase inhibitor Isentress™. He was also the leader of the HCV protease discovery program and early development team chair. Two compounds from this program are currently in advanced clinical studies (vaniprevir and MK-5172).

In late 2007, Dr. Vacca took on the role of Head of Chemistry of the newly formed External Basic Research (EBR) site at Merck and helped to formulate Merck's external research strategy. In 2009 he was named the Basic Research Site Head of the Merck Frosst Research Institute in Montreal, Canada and helped the site's transition to support infectious diseases until the unfortunate site closure at the end of 2010. After that he simultaneously held two positions within the MRL Chemistry organization as Vice President of Chemistry at the Kenilworth, New Jersey site (until Sept. 2011) and was the Global Head of Structural Chemistry until his retirement from Merck in Nov. 2011. Dr. Vacca recently joined WuxiApptec Ltd. to lead their Early Success Sharing Partnerships business unit which will be based in the US.

Dr. Vacca has over 100 publications and patents and is the holder of many awards including a Merck Directors Award given by the Merck board of Directors (1998); PhRMA Discoverers Award (1999); Intellectual Property Owners "National Inventor of the year Award" (1997); European Inventor of the Year (non-EU nation)(2007); ACS "Award for Creative Invention" (1999); and was a named a Merck Research Laboratories Presidential Fellow in 2008. He was named to the American Chemical Society Medicinal Chemistry Hall of Fame in August, 2012.

ACS Division of Medicinal Chemistry

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