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Dr. Thomas Cech Nominated to Join Merck Board of Directors


WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. - Merck & Co., Inc. today announced that Thomas R. Cech, Ph.D., 61, president of Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), has been nominated by the Merck board of directors to join the board effective May 27. With his election, Dr. Cech will become one of 14 outside directors on the 15-member board. Dr. Cech will stand for election by the Company’s stockholders in April 2009.

“Tom has the highest level of scientific and research experience. He will be an invaluable addition to Merck and to our board,” said Richard T. Clark, chairman, president, and chief executive officer. “We look forward to his insights and perspectives.”

Dr. Cech will step down as HHMI’s president at the end of March 2009, but will remain an HHMI investigator when he returns to his faculty position at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He will resume research and teaching and serve as director of the Colorado Institute of Molecular Biotechnology.

Dr. Cech joined the faculty of the University of Colorado in 1978. He became an HHMI investigator in 1988 and Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry in 1990. Three years later, he co-founded Ribozyme Pharmaceuticals, a company that later became Sirna Therapeutics, Inc. which Merck & Co., Inc. acquired in December of 2006.

Dr. Cech’s work has been recognized by many national and international awards and prizes, including the Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award (1988), the Nobel Prize in Chemistry (1989) and the National Medal of Science (1995). Dr. Cech is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and a lifetime professor of the American Cancer Society.

Dr. Cech earned his Ph. D. degree in chemistry from University of California, Berkeley, and did his postdoctoral research in biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Merck & Co., Inc. is a global research-driven pharmaceutical company dedicated to putting patients first. Established in 1891, Merck currently discovers, develops, manufactures and markets vaccines and medicines to address unmet medical needs. The Company devotes extensive efforts to increase access to medicines through far-reaching programs that not only donate Merck medicines but help deliver them to the people who need them. Merck also publishes unbiased health information as a not-for-profit service. For more information, visit


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