Joseph Vacca, PhD
Head of Chemistry
Dr. Vacca is a highly acclaimed chemist with an extensive background in the drug discovery industry. He joined Merck Research Labs in 1981 where he worked for 30 years. His work and leadership was seminal in the discovery of several Merck drugs including CRIXVAN and Isentress. He was Head of Chemistry at Merck’s External Basic Research site where he helped formulate Merck’s external research strategy. He was then appointed Basic Research Site Head for Merck Frosst and then simultaneously held two positions as VP Chemistry and Global Head of Structural Chemistry within the MRL Chemistry organization. More recently he was a SVP at WuxiApptec Ltd where he led their Early Success Sharing Partnerships business unit in the U.S. Dr. Vacca has over 100 publications and patents and holds numerous awards including a Merck Directors Award (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 inducted into the American Chemical Society Medicinal Chemistry Hall of Fame (2012) and was also named a “Hero of Chemistry” (along with the research team) for his role in the discovery and development of the HIV integrase inhibitor Isentress TM. He was conferred a PhD from SUNY-Buffalo in Organic Chemistry.