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Thomas N. Salzmann

by Susan J. Ainsworth
December 14, 2009 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 87, Issue 50

Thomas N. Salzmann, 60, a scientific leader at Merck & Co. whose seminal research in the field of antibiotics led to the discovery of Primaxin, died on Oct. 30.

Salzmann earned an undergraduate degree from Colgate University in 1971 and a Ph.D. in synthetic organic chemistry in 1975 from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, working in the laboratory of Barry M. Trost.

Salzmann joined Merck Research Laboratories in 1975 as a senior research chemist at its Rahway, N.J., site.

During his early years at Merck, Salzmann’s contribution to the discovery of Primaxin earned him the company’s prestigious Director’s Award in 1984.

He was promoted to lead the overall drug discovery efforts at the Rahway site in 1999, and under his leadership the drugs Cancidas for fungal infections, Emend for chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting, and Januvia for type 2 diabetes were discovered.

In 2002, Salzmann was appointed to lead Merck’s Worldwide Preclinical Development organization, and he assumed additional responsibility for Project Management & Global Operations later that year. He retired from Merck in 2004.

He was also a founding board member of Sirtris Pharmaceuticals (now part of GlaxoSmithKline). Salzmann was a retired member of ACS, having joined in 1973.

He is survived by his wife, Susan; three children, Kate Muti, Gretel, and Matt; and four grandchildren, Madison, Jane, Owen, and Finn.

Susan J. Ainsworth writes obituaries. Obituary notices may be sent to and should include a detailed educational and professional history.


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