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- Dr. John Wai

"Driving scientific excellence, creativity,
and rigor for innovative drug discoveries."

John Wai, Ph.D

Vice President of Medicinal Chemistry (IDSU)

Dr. John Wai obtained his undergraduate degree in chemistry from the University of Hong Kong and his doctoral degree with Professor Edward Piers from the University of British Columbia, Canada, followed by post-doctoral training with Professor Barry Sharpless (Nobel Laureate) at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

John joined Merck Research Laboratories, Department of Medicinal Chemistry (West Point, PA) in 1989. He contributed to the discovery efforts of numerous programs, from target validation & lead identification to lead optimization & early development. These include HIV-1 non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors, ras-farnesyl protein transferase inhibitors, fibrinogen receptor antagonists, HIV integrase strand transfer inhibitors, HIV RNase H inhibitors, gamma secretase inhibitors, etc. His innovations were documented in over 70 publications and US granted patents.

Through the 24 years at Merck, John rose through the ranks and was promoted to be Director of Medicinal Chemistry in 2005. In 2007, he received the Distinguished Scientific Award from the inaugural Merck WP Basic Research Reward and Recognition Forum for his work on HIV integrase inhibitors. John received the Heroes of Chemistry Award from the American Chemical Society (September 2013) for his contribution in the discovery and development of Isentress, the first HIV integrase inhibitors approved for treatment of AIDS (2007). In 2014, he joined WuXi AppTec as Vice President of Medicinal Chemistry and was appointed by Fudan University as Adjunct Professor, Department of Medicinal Chemistry, College of Pharmacy.