David Ege ChE PhD ’03, Executive Director of Vaccines & Biologics Manufacturing at Merck, working to save lives
David Ege ChE PhD ’03 is Executive Director of Vaccines & Biologics Manufacturing for Merck & Co., Inc. He leads bulk manufacturing operations at Merck’s Elkton, VA plant for the Gardasil® and Gardasil9® cervical cancer vaccines, as well as adjuvants and Cancidas® – a broad-based anti-fungal medicine made by fermentation. The Elkton plant in Virginia started 75 years ago to supply antibiotics for the troops in WWII, and has played an important role in some of the most important new medicines of the past century, including statins for heart-disease and Crixivan®, the first drug available to combat HIV. Today, the site has transformed its focus to modern technologies for vaccines, biologics and sterile pharmaceuticals. Dave’s team is a highly collaborative and interdisciplinary group, working together to ensure reliable, safe supply to patients worldwide. “We strive to continuously improve our supply capabilities every day,” he says, “to do our part toward the ultimate goal of effectively eliminating cervical cancer through vaccination.” Toward that goal, Dave’s team applies continuous improvement daily to assure quality and increase productivity, with technical fundamentals, statistical analysis and lean six sigma principles.
While pursuing his PhD at Penn, Dave also worked in Penn’s Center for Technology Transfer and served as President of the Penn Biotech Group. Between 1999 and 2001, he took a leave of absence from graduate school as co-founder of a start-up company in San Francisco. Dave has been with Merck since 2003, in a variety of technical and leadership roles in research and manufacturing, in the US and Switzerland. He has had the opportunity to contribute to the successful first-in-world licensure and launch of cervical cancer vaccines Gardasil® (2006) and Gardasil9® (2014), and Keytruda®, a breakthrough cancer immunotherapy (2014). Dave says, “I find it extremely rewarding to be in the healthcare field, as it gives me the opportunity to work with so many talented people to address some of the biggest challenges facing society today. Through our work we have the potential to improve and save lives, for our families, friends and millions of people around the world.”