A day in the life of a mother at MSD

December 4, 2023

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Jill and the kids walking

Day one back at MSD feels like I have already run a marathon between getting two kids fed and ready and bags packed. ‘Mum-guilt’ is at an all-time high as I’ve said goodbye to two screaming kids at day care and shed a few tears of my own in the car. Walking back into the office is a little daunting, but also feels like home. Familiar faces with kind, welcoming words, offering a distraction from that awful morning. I collect my laptop and ease back into working life as a parent of two and try to remember how to log in, open Outlook and then learn how to use Teams (farewell Jabber).

Jill's kid Edmund

I have two kids Alice (6) and Edmund (3.5), and my husband Tom is a high school teacher, with limited options for flexibility. Edmund was born in October 2019 a few months before COVID entered our lives. With uncertainty and health concerns for our family I requested to take a second year of parental leave, and this was approved.

Since returning in October 2021, I work under a flexible work arrangement of 4 days per week, and on my 5th day I go back to the hardest job of all, parenting a threenager.

Flexibility during work hours is the MVP (Most Valuable Player). Working from home, as well as flexible start and finish times gives me quality time with my family and I am present in their lives for important moments like ‘first days’, assemblies and Mother’s Day breakfast etc.

MSD, my manager and my team provide direct and indirect support. Simply asking me how I am going, or my understanding that at MSD it is okay if I need to step away from my desk to be there for my family during the insane number of viruses that the kids bring home. I can bring my best self to work, meet my work deadlines, pursue career goals as well as keeping afloat at home.

Policies, the Nursing Room within the Wellness Suite, Well-Being Room (for breastfeeding mothers), Bring Your Kids to Work days and other initiatives all contribute to the positive company culture that MSD has in supporting me as a mother and to all employees who have a caring role in a family.

MSD has supported me through a miscarriage and welcoming my two beautiful babies into the world. One and a half years on from returning from my second parental leave at MSD, Alice is thriving in kindergarten and Edmund is (reasonably) happy to go to preschool. I can honestly say a huge thank you to MSD, my past and current managers, Lynne and Kavitha, as well as my team for supporting me throughout this time. It has absolutely made a positive impact on me and my family.

Recently I was asked to define success. I read through brilliant quotes and philosophical ideas, but my honest answer is: “Getting the washing done and the kids to school on time! And, along the way I hope to make a positive change in the world.”

Jill G, Pharmacovigilance team

AU-NON-00790 Last updated December 2023

Understanding melanoma: The signs, symptoms and risk factors

June 7, 2023

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Swim between the flags on a beach

What is melanoma?

Melanoma is a serious form of skin cancer. Characterised by the uncontrolled growth of pigment-producing cells, melanoma accounts for approximately 1.7% of new cancer cases worldwide.

Melanoma can occur anywhere on the skin, including areas without sun exposure, but it’s more likely to start in certain locations, like the face and neck, legs (most common in women), and chest and back (most common in men).

The risk of melanoma generally increases with age and incidence is greater among older populations. Melanoma is not uncommon, even among patients younger than 30 years, and is one of the most common cancers in young adults, especially young women.

In most areas of the world, melanoma diagnosis rates have been rising over the past few decades

In 2022, it's estimated that in Australia there were more than

people diagnosed with melanoma

and approximately


Signs of cancerous moles

A new spot on the skin or a spot that is changing in size, shape or color, or one that looks different, is an important warning sign of melanoma and should be checked by a doctor. The ABCDE rule outlines the characteristics of moles that may be melanoma and is helpful guidance for monitoring skin changes:

Illustration A is for Asymmetry

A is for Asymmetry

One half of a mole or birthmark does not match the other.

Illustration B is for Border

B is for Border

The edges are irregular, ragged, notched or blurred.

C is for Color

The color is not the same all over and may include different shades of brown or black, or sometimes with patches of pink, red, white, or blue.

D is for Diameter

The spot is more than 6 millimeters across (about 1/4 inch – the size of a pencil eraser), although melanomas can sometimes be smaller than this.

E is for Evolving

The mole is changing in size, shape, or color.

Any of these warning signs should be discussed with a doctor, especially if you feel you are at risk for melanoma.

Risk factors

There are many risk factors for melanoma including:

  • Ultraviolet light on your skin, such as from the sun or a tanning bed (the most common risk factor for melanoma).
  • Age — melanoma is more common in older people, but younger people are also at risk. Melanoma is one of the most common cancers in people younger than 30 years (especially among women).
  • Moles — having atypical moles, many moles and/or large moles.
  • Personal or family history — melanoma can be genetic and having a relative with melanoma can increase your risk.
  • Fair skin or a fair complexion, a lot of freckles and/or light-colored hair and/or eyes.
  • Other factors.

Ways to help lower your risk of melanoma

Melanoma can’t be entirely prevented, but there are ways to lower your risk. The number one way to lower risk is to protect against UV rays, which damage the DNA of skin cells and impact the genes that control skin cell growth. The top source of UV rays is the sun. That’s why it’s important to practice sun safety every time you go outside, even on cloudy days when UV rays can still shine through. Here are a few ways to protect yourself:

Seek shade

UV exposure is greatest between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If you need to be outside during these hours, seek shade — under a tree, an umbrella or an awning.

Wear a hat

Try to find a hat with a wide brim — at least 2 or 3 inches wide — to protect your face, top of the head, ears and neck.

Cover up

Choose clothing with a tight knit or weave, and avoid shirts that you can see through. Remember, if light is getting through, then UV rays are too.

Use sunscreen

For extended outdoor activity, use a water-resistant, broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.

Wear sunglasses

Protect your eyes and the sensitive skin around them. Pick a pair of sunglasses that will block as close to 100% of both UVA and UVB rays as possible.

Remember to consult your doctor if you have any concerns.

AU-NON-00710 Last updated June 2023

Our People

Flexible Parental Leave, a Dad’s Story at MSD

Why parental leave needs to be accessible to all parents

March 21, 2023

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Dylan reading to his baby, Ted

We are proud of our Parental Leave policy that enables all parents at MSD to access Parental Leave regardless of their caregiver-status. At MSD, our colleagues can take paid parental leave flexibly to suit the different needs of them and their families. Our equitable Parental Leave approach is an important component of our commitment to gender equality both within and outside the workplace.

Our enhanced Parental Leave has been in place since 2021, and we are proud to hear of the impact that this has on our employees.

Dylan Stanyer, Production Lead Technician at our MSD manufacturing facility in Bendigo, has been able to make use of the policy in order to meet the needs of his family as they navigate parenthood for the first time.

Dylan and Jordy’s Story, Welcoming their first child

Dylan shares that when he and his wife Jordy decided they wanted to start a family, there were plenty of unknowns. He shared, ‘to prepare myself as best I could, I began reading heaps for the first time since leaving school. Not the typical what to expect… type of books, but autobiographies by professionals who were also fathers.’

One unknown for Dylan was how others around him would respond to his exciting news, however his fears were quickly allayed. ‘I was a little anxious about telling my managers about the exciting news, worried that time off would cause resentment, however my manager and the Bendigo site leaders are all strong advocates for a work life balance.’

Full-Time Paid Parental Leave

Dylan first chose to utilise paid parental leave 2 weeks before and 2 weeks after the due date, to suit the nature of his role. ‘I could be in cleanrooms and not as readily accessible as one would hope to be with a baby arriving any day.’

‘We were lucky enough to welcome Theodore (Ted) in our lives close to his due date. The first few weeks were great to spend as a family, finding a routine that worked for us before I returned to work, soaking in the moments as he developed.

I returned to full time work for the following 6 months, thankfully only a handful of sleepless nights over that time and many colleagues supported me in ensuring I wasn’t spending too much excess time on site for the non-urgent issues.’

Part-Time Paid Parental Leave

14 weeks

When Jordy decided to return to work, she returned part time and transitioned to full time with Ted in day care 2 days a week. Dylan spends Wednesdays and Saturdays 1:1 with Ted, and has found this a helpful balance with a 4-day working week.

‘From my reading, I had learnt that from those leaders that they spent as much time as possible with their kids as toddlers, because that’s when they start to develop, so I wanted to make sure I used my full leave entitlement and will be continuing our ‘(Ted)nesdays’ until Ted is 2 years old. We will go for a swim or to tumble tots (movement program) in the morning, followed by catching up with some friends with their toddlers.’ One challenge for Dylan has been fully disconnecting from work one day a week. ‘I am guilty of doing a pulse check with some peers (while Ted sleeps) because it is taking some getting used to, being able disconnect from work for a whole day every week is something I might not be able to fully do, but I never let it interrupt my time with Ted.’

Dylan shares his wisdom to other expectant non-birthing parents, ‘I have 2 pieces of advice. 1. Listen to Hamish Blake’s podcast How Other Dads Dad, it will entertain you and leave you wondering if Bandit is the perfect role model & 2. Don’t be nervous about taking the leave as the non-birthing parent, it is precious time, your managers and teams will be fully supportive. The work world will keep turning and be fine;  take the time to enjoy your family and watch your little ones grow.

Finally, thank you to my team and the whole Production team at Bendigo, you have all been so supportive, I cannot thank you all enough.’

AU-NON-00670 Last Update March 2023

Patients & Communities

Patient stories

Patients share their experiences of living with cancer

1 June 2022

Patients Can't Wait


Peter smiling

Peter diagnosed with lung cancer

In 2011 Peter decided it was time to retire and enjoy some free time after a busy working life but was surprised when his GP called him back after a routine visit with the news that he had stage 4 lung cancer. Peter took part in a clinical trial.

Adam living with oesophageal cancer

Everything was going right for Adam and Emma. They were newly married, and Adam had just qualified as a primary school teacher. Then Adam was diagnosed with stage 4 oesophageal cancer. Their love for life and each other drove them to find information on all the treatment options that were available.

You need to be an advocate for yourself or your loved one. You need to do the research, you need to reach out to multiple specialists, you need to get second opinions and you need to fight for the information.”

  Click to hear Adam and Emma share their experience.

Mary diagnosed with head and neck cancer

In 2016 Mary was busy living. She was working full time, managing her children, her house and garden and going to the gym, when on a work trip she received a call from her GP with the news she had head and neck cancer. Suddenly Mary found herself on the roller coaster of navigating a cancer diagnosis.

My head was full – I just couldn’t take in anything more. I had a ‘second pair of ears’ at all my appointments – my sister came with me; she listened, took notes, it was so helpful.”  

Being a carer

Mary’s sister and carer, Anne, shares why she became Mary’s ‘second pair of ears’ and why finding your patient group is one of the first things to do.

Building your support network is one of the most important steps to take. Patient groups can provide a place for people to go for information and support – and help patients to not feel alone with their diagnosis. As Mary describes, patient groups can connect you with people who understand.

“People who have lived it start talking… and that’s affirming.”

AU-NON-00719 Last updated July 2023

Understanding renal cell carcinoma

May 3, 2022

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Man wearing a mask listening to female doctor

What is renal cell carcinoma?

Kidney cancer is a cancer that starts in the cells of the kidney.1 Around 9 out of 10 kidney cancers are renal cell carcinoma (RCC). In the early stages of RCC the tumour is in the kidney only but as the cancer grows it can spread to other parts of the kidney and other parts of the body like the lungs or bones.1


people in Australia were diagnosed with kidney cancer in 2021.*

Men accounted for

of cases.*

Projected to be the

most diagnosed cancer in Australia in 2021.*

* AIHW, Cancer Data Australia 2021 https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/cancer/cancer-data-in-australia/contents/cancer-summary-data-visualisation Accessed April 2022. Cancer in Australia 2021. https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/cancer/cancer-in-australia-2021/summary

Who is at risk?

Some of the risk factors for kidney cancer include:1

  • Age (60+)
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • Kidney failure
  • Family history
  • Inherited conditions
  • Exposure to toxic substances at work

Early detection & treatment

Most people with RCC do not have obvious symptoms and their cancer is discovered incidentally on imaging. This means that RCC is sometimes not found until the cancer is advanced. 2,3

Despite improvements in RCC diagnosis and treatment over the past two decades, it remains a serious urological malignancy. 4

If the cancer spreads or returns?

In the past five years, treatments for advanced RCC have evolved, including combination therapies, providing more options for patients.5,6

If you or a loved one are concerned about kidney cancer or renal cell carcinoma, it is important you talk to your doctor or healthcare team.

You can visit Cancer Australia for more information on the above statistics.

  1. Cancer Council Australia: Understanding Kidney Cancer Booklet, https://www.cancer.org.au/assets/pdf/understanding-kidney-cancer-booklet Accessed April 2022
  2. Padala S. A et al 2020, World J Oncol., ‘Epidemiology of Renal Cell Carcinoma’, vol. 11, no. 3, pp. 79-87, DOI: https://doi.org/10.14740/wjon1279.
  3. Atkins MD. Patient education: Renal cell carcinoma (kidney cancer) (Beyond the Basics). UpToDate. Waltham, MA: UpToDate Inc. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/renal-cell-carcinoma-kidney-cancer-beyond-the-basics Accessed April 2022
  4. Capitanio, Umberto et al. “Epidemiology of Renal Cell Carcinoma.” European urology vol. 75,1 (2019): 74-84. doi:10.1016/j.eururo.2018.08.036
  5. Ged, Y. et al 2020, Nature Reviews Urology, ‘Advanced renal cell carcinoma and COVID-19 — a personal perspective’, vol. 17, pp. 425-427, DOI: https://doi.org/10.14740/wjon1279.
  6. Schmidt, A. 2019, Asia-Pac J Clin Oncol, ‘Treatment selection for first-line metastatic renal cell carcinoma in Australia: Impact of new therapy options’, vo. 15, suppl. 10, DOI:10.1111/ajco.13289.
Our People

One Dad’s Parental Leave Story at MSD

Why parental leave needs to be accessible to all parents

March 15, 2022

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Dave watching his baby Sully with medical monitors

We are proud of our Parental Leave Policy that enables all parents at MSD to access Parental Leave regardless of their caregiver-status. Our Policy allows colleagues to take paid parental leave flexibly to suit the different needs of parents and their families. Our equitable Parental Leave policy is an important component of our commitment to gender equality both within and outside the workplace.

Our enhanced Parental Leave policy has been in place for nearly a year, and we are proud to hear of the impact that this policy has on our employees.

Dave Cushing, IT Site Lead at our MSD manufacturing facility in Bendigo, was particularly relieved to experience the real-life impact of the parental leave provisions that he was able to access at a very difficult time for his family, as he and his wife Jo welcomed their second son, Sully.

Dave and Jo’s Story, Welcoming Baby #2

Dave & Jo’s second child Sully had a challenging welcome into the world. Early on in pregnancy, Dave and Jo discovered their baby had some kidney issues and required regular scans. Later in the pregnancy, Jo’s 36-week scan indicated significant abnormalities, and their lives were quickly turned upside down. Sully was diagnosed with Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia, impacting roughly 1 in 2500 births in Australia per year, with roughly a 20-30% mortality rate. Doctors requested that Jo and Dave immediately relocate to Melbourne (a 2 hour drive from home) to be near the critical care that would be required for Sully. At birth, Sully required resuscitation, emergency surgery and significant care in the RCH NICU. Following his surgery, it was not known what his prognosis would be, and how long he might need specialised extended care.

Throughout this scary time as they began to face this devastating diagnosis and the move away from home, Dave felt comforted knowing that one thing he would not have to worry about was receiving support from his leader and team as he started a leave of absence.

“It was no question in my mind that MSD would be there for me, to support me and my family.”

While Sully remained in NICU, Dave began thinking about what type of parental leave he would be eligible to take and what other types of leave he could use if Sully required extended care. When a teammate reminded him about MSD’s 12-week flexible parental leave policy, Dave recalls becoming teary, and the feeling of relief that had the time and space to deal with whatever is coming without worrying about whether he had enough leave.

Dave’s Parental Leave

Carer's leave
5 weeks

Throughout their stay in Melbourne, Dave was able to take carer's leave for the period of Sully's birth and NICU stay.

Full-Time Paid Parental Leave
6 weeks

When they returned home from Melbourne, Dave utilised full-time Parental Leave to settle back into home with Jo and their growing family.

Part-Time Paid Parental Leave
12 weeks

Dave felt he wanted to continue to be present for his family as they continued to adjust as a family of four. Dave decided to take the remaining eligible paid parental leave part-time. This allowed Dave to be caring for Sully and Hudson (2 years old) in the mornings and working in the afternoons as he eased back into work while remaining present with his family.

Through this time returning to work, Dave felt supported by MSD through all stages. He was able to embrace as he calls it: “ultimate flex”, adapting his work style to suit his growing family.

Where are they now?

Today, Sully is a happy and healthy 10-month-old boy and Dave and Jo are pleased to be watching him grow and develop through typical infant milestones, despite his challenging journey.

The importance of equitable Parental Leave

“MSD doesn’t just talk about caring for people. The company’s policies and values are reflected in actions. MSD is genuinely interested in the welfare of their people”
Dave Cushing, Proud Dad

Dave reflects that it is great to see the equal recognition of parenting at MSD, acknowledging the role of Dads and non-birthing partners in parenting, which enabled him to spend valuable time with his growing family.

Parental Leave doesn’t only impact the employee taking leave. The benefits of flexible, equitable paid parental leave extend to the employees family and community. For Jo, it was a welcome relief that Dave had the opportunity to spend time with family, as well as the assurance that his income would not be affected during an already challenging time with Sully, a young Hudson, all in the midst of the COVID lockdown.

“I felt relieved, it was such a weight off my shoulders knowing that we could just focus on Sully. Even after he left the NICU, he was still requiring a high level of care. I don’t know how I would have coped if Dave wasn’t around”.
Jo Cushing

AU-NON-00755 Last updated July 2023

Our People

Childhood cancer patient dedicates his life to clinical trial research

After participating in a paediatric leukemia study, Arjan Ooms’ life has come full circle as our director of clinical research in the Netherlands

November 19, 2021

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Arjan Ooms smiling

On a day that should be filled with balloons, cake and presents, Arjan Ooms was in the hospital being diagnosed with leukemia. It was his fourth birthday.

Ooms was a relatively healthy young boy, but his parents started to worry when they noticed blue needle-size dots on his body.

“The moment I was diagnosed with ALL (acute lymphocytic leukemia), my life and that of my parents and the whole family was turned upside down.”

Arjan Ooms

Director, clinical research, the Netherlands

When Ooms was diagnosed with ALL in 1985, there weren’t nearly as many treatment options as today, and many included high doses of chemotherapy and radiation. After much consideration, Ooms’ parents decided to enroll their son in a clinical trial using an experimental treatment without radiation.

Although Ooms says he doesn’t remember much from his time as a paediatric patient, he does have memories of post-chemotherapy ice-cream treats, pet therapy visits and a meet and greet with Santa Claus.

Coming full circle

One year after his diagnosis, Ooms’ doctors told him he was in remission. But his journey with cancer wasn’t over just yet. The following years were filled with regular follow-up care appointments, and to this day, he still sees physicians to observe the long-term side effects of his childhood cancer as part of another clinical trial.

The importance of clinical trials has always stayed with Ooms. He went to college to study general health sciences and then started a career in clinical drug research in the pharmaceutical industry.

Today, he’s responsible for all clinical research activities for our company within the Netherlands — a position that coincidentally brought him back to the same hospital where he was treated as a young boy. Ooms was there to check in on a trial our company was conducting, but he took a moment to walk the halls and even stopped by his old hospital room that he says still had the same color paint on the walls.

“I saw kids moving around me in wheelchairs with their IV infusions on the back. Many had no hair on their heads, but they were smiling and laughing,” Ooms says. “At that moment, I realised, ‘Okay, I was also here when I was four years old, so let’s make sure I can give something back.”

Ooms says he also finds himself sharing his personal cancer story with his research teams to remind them of the impact their work has on so many different people.

“It’s not just a project, it’s a project where we can make a potential solution for a patient, and one that patients may benefit from in the future.”

Living life to the fullest

As a young boy, Ooms spent months in the hospital and sometimes in quarantine alone and away from his loved ones. He says turning off emotions was necessary to survive during that time, but today he has a different outlook on life.

“Now is the time that I truly value the real emotional connection,” says Ooms. “I want to get the most out of my life and with my three young children, I’m also trying to make it clear to them how beautiful life is.”

AU-NON-00758 Last updated July 2023

Celebrating the freedom to be ourselves

MSD recognises Pride Month and our LGBTQIA+ community in June and beyond

June 8, 2021

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Two men in suit smiling

As Pride Month is recognised around the world, MSD Australia and New Zealand is celebrating the diversity of its colleagues in its own unique way and will come together at the end of June to celebrate the month across all parts of the organisation.

Led by the co-chairs of the Australian and New Zealand chapter of MSD’s Rainbow Alliance, Martin Tanudjaja and Theo Orfanos from the Global Clinical Trials Operations team, – self-described as a “couple who work together” – are passionate about their leadership of the Rainbow Alliance and recognising Pride Month beyond June.

“Working in an accepting environment allows everyone to excel. Through our involvement with the Rainbow Alliance, we are looking to foster an already present level of acceptance at MSD Australia and New Zealand, where everyone has the psychological safety to be themselves and be able to bring their whole self  to work,” says Theo.

Martin and Theo lead an 18-strong Rainbow Alliance group, which meets monthly to discuss initiatives and raise issues, with the aim to quickly resolve any concerns or unintended misconceptions related to the LGBTQIA+ community in the workplace. Ultimately, it is a safe space for any employee to ask questions or for help, break down barriers and challenge societal stigmas in a respectful manner.

“At MSD, we already operate within a global community – we all come from different backgrounds, from all walks of life. It’s important that everyone we work with are proud to be our colleagues and celebrate the diversity we contribute to the work we do."

Theo Orfanos

A diverse and inclusive workforce inspires innovation and is fundamental to our company’s success. Having an environment comprised of people from different dimensions of diversity also helps us better understand the unique needs of the customers, health care providers, communities and patients we serve.

As Martin says, “Our company has an impact on the lives of patients, so it’s important for patients to know that our company truly values people for who they are.”

AU-NON-00761 Last updated August 2023

Women in science? Absolutely.

Strong career paths and cutting-edge science draw more women to our small molecule process R&D team

April 15, 2021

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Four female scientists in lab

Women scientists have historically been underrepresented in the field of process research and development — the space between drug discovery and manufacturing.  However, over the past seven years, the percentage of women on our company’s small molecule process research & development (SM PR&D) team has nearly doubled and continues to grow.

Jamie McCabe Dunn headshot

“This progress is important because it reflects our mindset that diversity and inclusion fuel creativity and innovation.”

Jamie McCabe Dunn

director, process chemistry

“Our group today looks dramatically different than it did when I first started 14 years ago because we’ve taken steps to build more diverse teams,” said McCabe Dunn.

And, women chemists and engineers are vital to our success.

“While we’ve come a long way in the last decade, achieving greater gender equity must continue to be a priority for all leaders,” said Kevin Campos, vice president.

One successful approach has been for women leaders to take more active roles in recruiting talent. This allows  for greater relationship building among female candidates applying for jobs in science fields and provides a vision for growth opportunities at our company.

“We’re also expanding relationships with more academic institutions and casting a wider net to find excellent talent,” said McCabe Dunn. “As more women join the company and see the strong career paths open to them, we expect to see even greater diversity.”

A woman chemical engineer in a male-dominated field

Eighteen years ago, when Marguerite Mohan joined MSD, she was one of a small group of women scientists on the team. Although not different from what she experienced academically, she recalls being asked whether she thought this environment would limit her.

Marguerite-Mohan headshot

“I had no concerns being in the gender minority…I knew I was here because of my ability.”

Marguerite Mohan

executive director, chemical engineering, SM PR&D

“I loved being a chemical engineer and wanted to apply my skills where I’d make an impact on people’s lives. The interface of research and manufacturing was a great place to start,” said Mohan.

Tasked with developing and scaling up processes to safely, innovatively and robustly produce drug candidates for clinical trials and commercial use — these teams deliver for patients through cutting-edge science.  They challenge the status-quo and try new things. That’s also how they recognize and develop talent.

“We’re committed to making sure everyone’s voice is heard and respected. This has allowed women to frame what technical growth looks like from our point of view, bringing diversity of thought to the problem-solving and leadership table,” said Mohan. “By challenging the status quo, we’re creating stronger, more innovative teams filled with unique scientific talent.”

A new generation of women scientists

Niki Patel and Cindy Hong joined our company within the past six years — both drawn, in part, to our reputation as a scientific leader committed to improving human health.

“I was very aware of the team’s novel and innovative science through publications in high-profile, peer-reviewed journals and presentations at conferences. This was a place where I wanted to do great science,” said Patel, associate principal scientist. 

It was also a place where both Patel and Hong knew they’d fit in.

“I was very aware of the team’s novel and innovative science through publications in high-profile, peer- reviewed journals and presentations at conferences. This was a place where I wanted to do great science,” says Niki, associate principal scientist. 

It was also a place where both knew they’d fit in.

Cindy Hong a scientist at MSD

“As a female graduate student, I was definitely outnumbered. But, when I interviewed here, I saw such diversity on the teams – including at leadership levels.”

Cindy Hong

Associate principal scientist

“I knew this environment was right for me,” said Hong. “I’ve worked with great female and male leaders since joining the company and been exposed to many different areas of expertise. I see real opportunities for growth.”

Women empowering other women in science

Strong networks and outreach are important to not only maintain a pipeline to potential female scientist candidates but also retain and promote those already on the team. They can include things like collaborative communities, mentor programs, publishing papers or grassroots efforts.

“For example, I’ve helped organize forums to discuss topics on diversity and inclusion and participated in career panels geared toward supporting women and underrepresented groups in the field,” said Patel.

Sometimes, that support might simply be a quick note of recognition.

 “I try to acknowledge micro-accomplishments in the moment — things that seem small but are important to that person,’” said Mohan. “It’s a simple, personal way to show someone they — and their work — matter.”

In addition to kudos from colleagues, many of our female scientists have been recognized externally. In the last three years, 12 women in the department have been honored with individual awards or as key contributors in team awards. These awards include the ACS Division of Organic Chemistry Early Career Investigator, ACS WCC Rising Star, ACS Fellow, Heroes of Chemistry, the Edison Patent Award, the ACS Award for Computers in Chemistry and Pharma, and an HBA Rising Star.

“We have a high success rate,” said McCabe Dunn. “Ninety-two percent of the women we’ve nominated or renominated for individual awards have won.”

Can women have a successful career in science?  Absolutely. As Mohan says, “Know your core, be true to it and value what makes you a unique asset.”

To learn more about some of our women in science, read Women in STEM at MSD share who inspires them most.

A woman scientist working in the lab

Are you interested in a career in R&D?

AU-NON-00762 Last updated August 2023