Dr. Thien has worked in new product and process development at Merck for over 20 years. After receiving his B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Caltech (1982), an Sc.D. from MIT in biochemical engineering (1988) and a post doc at the Whitehead Institute of Biomedical Research, Mike joined the Merck Research Labs, working in vaccines and recombinant proteins. In 1991, Dr. Thien led a process development group for compounds made by organic synthesis, continuing in that capacity until 1997. During this time Dr. Thien was named a Merck Research Labs “Divisional Scientist” as a result of his development and plant start-up work on CRIXIVAN, one of the first HIV protease inhibitors in the marketplace. Between 1997 and 2003 Mike held roles of increasing responsibility including Senior Director of chemical pilot plant operations and Executive Director of chemical process development. Dr. Thien was named Vice President, Process R&D in 2003 covering analytical and engineering development of Merck's small molecules.
In 2005, Mike co-led a team to re-define the paradigm by which Merck brings new drugs to market. This effort resulted in the creation of a new function at Merck: the Global Pharmaceutical Commercialization organization. This group includes engineers and analysts from both R&D and manufacturing and reports up through manufacturing. In 2005 Mike was appointed to head this group and was made responsible for both late stage process development and the making of clinical and commercial launch supplies for all of Merck's new drugs, with responsibility for chemical and formulation development and manufacturing efforts at facilities in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Ireland. In October of 2008 Mike took on the additional responsibilities of leading technical support for Merck's in-line small molecule products. In April of 2009, Dr. Thien was appointed to Senior Vice President, Global Science, Technology and Commercialization where he became additionally responsible for the analytical sciences, statistics and packaging technology for manufacturing. In 2012, he also took in responsibility for technical support of commercial sterile operations.
Mike has made numerous invited conference presentations and guest lectures on the pharmaceutical industry and chairs the advisory board for the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Tufts University.