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Merck team wins 2022 Peter J. Dunn Award for Green Chemistry and Engineering

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A team from Merck in Rahway, NJ is the recipient of the 2022 Peter J. Dunn Award for Green Chemistry and Engineering Impact in the Pharmaceutical Industry for their work, “From wood pulp to a candidate medicine: Green manufacturing technologies enable the production of investigational leukemia drug nemtabrutinib from a biorenewable commodity material.”

The Peter J. Dunn award was established by the ACS Green Chemistry Institute Pharmaceutical Roundtable to recognize outstanding industrial implementation of novel green chemistry and/or engineering in the pharmaceutical industry that demonstrate compelling environmental, safety, cost, and/or efficiency improvements over current technologies.

The initial manufacturing process for nemtabrutinib—acquired through purchase of ArQule, Inc.—relied on an 11-step synthesis. The Merck team was able to reduce this to two steps. They were also able to replace toxic solvents with the biorenewable Cyrene, avoid a highly energy-intensive transformation and employ catalysis to improve efficiency. Three new technologies were employed to contribute to the sustainability of the process: biocatalysis, enzyme immobilization, and continuous manufacturing in a packed-bed reactor. Merck estimates that the new process reduces energy utilization 70%, as well as seeing a 70% reduction in both carbon dioxide and wastewater generation.

“The development and deployment of enabling technologies that support the most robust long-term supply of our medicines and vaccines is a primary goal of our process research and development team, and we are confident that biocatalysis will continue to grow as a key driver of efficient manufacturing processes,” says L.-C. Campeau, Associate Vice President and the Head of Small Molecule Process Research & Development at Merck.

Merck team members receiving the award are Karla Camacho Soto, Mike DiMaso, Jacob Forstater, Nadine Kuhl, Reed Larson, Chris Prier, and Ben Turnbull. The Award will be presented at the 26th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference during a symposium on Wednesday, June 8, 2022, in Reston, Virginia.

The American Chemical Society (ACS) Green Chemistry Institute Pharmaceutical Roundtable (GCIPR) is a partnership between the ACS Green Chemistry Institute® and over 40 pharmaceutical-related corporations united by a shared commitment to integrate the principles of green chemistry and engineering into the business of drug discovery and production. Learn more at