Photo of Max Tishler

Max Tishler

  • National Medal of Science
  • Chemistry

For his profound contributions to the Nation’s health and for the impact of his research on the practice of chemistry.

When he was 12 years old, Max Tishler worked at a local drugstore in Boston during the 1918 flu pandemic. While delivering drugs around the area, Tishler was struck by the suffering and death caused by the disease and eventually went on to become a major contributor to the pharmaceutical industry during his life.

A few years after Tishler received his doctorate in organic chemistry, George W. Merck convinced him to enter the private sector around the same time Merck was reorienting his company from producing chemicals to manufacturing pharmaceuticals. It was a bold move for Tishler at the time as most major chemistry research was done at universities.

At Merck, Tishler worked on the commercial production of drugs, vitamins and steroids, such as cortisone, penicillin and streptomycin. Under Tishler, Merck also developed vaccines for measles, mumps and rubella and drugs for arthritis, depression, heart disease and hypertension.

After 32 years at Merck, Tishler retired as the company’s senior vice president of research and development and returned to academia at Wesleyan University. By the end of his career, he was listed as the inventor on around 100 patents and published more than 100 scholarly research papers.

By Jacob Kerr