RAHWAY, NJ — The next chapter for Merck Research Laboratories began on Tuesday, June 20, with an official opening of the reimagined site as Merck’s new headquarters. The ribbon was cut by Merck Chairperson and CEO Robert M. Davis and Gov. Phil Murphy. Others in attendance included Senate President Nicholas Scutari, Rahway Mayor Raymond Giacobbe Jr., Linden Mayor Derek Armstead and other local health care, political and business leaders.
Sharon Rose, executive director of facilities at the Rahway campus, began the ceremony by speaking about the creation of the research lab in Rahway 80 years ago, the unexpected challenges during the global pandemic and Merck teams pulling together to modernize and optimize the Rahway facility. She said, “The campus is a very special place.”
Davis, who joined the company in 2014, said, “It’s amazing to think of the journey we’re on. I can’t be more pleased bringing all the functions of Merck to one site, paying tribute to the legacy, and thinking of all the discoveries that came from this site. I look forward to the future which continues to be bright.”
Murphy said, “It’s an incredible honor for me to be here today. This is a big day for Merck. This is a big day for Jersey. I’m incredibly humbled to be here on this historic day. The ribbon-cutting of Merck’s Rahway headquarters proves that the companies of tomorrow are deciding to not only locate here, but to stay and grow here, as we continue to cultivate our burgeoning innovation economy. The economic impact of this site, which will boast more than 6,000 employees and solidify New Jersey’s standing as a global pharmaceutical hub, cannot be overstated. Most importantly, the unveiling of Merck’s Rahway headquarters will enable this prolific company to continue its legacy of life-changing medical discoveries that have shaped the history of our state and the nation as a whole.”
“It’s a remarkable day,” said Paula Alston, Merck vice president of facilities. “It brings back Merck to our historical foundation. It’s a powerful day celebrating returning to our home, staying in this scientific hub in New Jersey. It’s exciting. We’ve transformed the site to a collaborative environment.”
Merck & Co. was founded in the United States on Jan. 1, 1891. George Merck, who was 23 years old, established the company to distribute fine chemicals throughout New York City and neighboring areas. In 1925, Merck’s son, George W. Merck, who began his career in the packing and shipping department in 1914, became the president of the company. And in 1933, the Merck Research Laboratory was founded in Rahway. When Merck and Schering-Plough merged in 2009 and combined operations, the company became the second largest pharmaceutical company in the United States by revenue.
During the course of 120 years, the Rahway campus has seen the start of many of the world’s greatest scientific breakthroughs including the development of penicillin.
Resident historian Patti McKenna quoted George Merck, “We try never to forget that medicine is for the people. It is not for the profits.” She reiterated that the company always stood by that.
Nicole Devitt, senior scientist at Merck, echoed the sentiment, explaining that, in 1987, Merck donated Mectizan (ivermectin), a medicine designed to combat onchocerciasis (“river blindness”) in Africa. There is a statue in the guest area of the building called Gift of Sight, depicting a young boy leading an older man.
With more than 6,000 employees, there are 100 buildings on the site, which extends more than 200 acres, spanning the cities of Rahway and Linden.
To learn more about Merck, visit: https://www.merck.com/.
Photos by Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta and Michael Levey