SWE Distinguished New Engineer
Angela M. Wagner, Ph.D.
Merck & Co. Inc.
For a strong dedication to cancer and infectious disease research; for making tangible contributions in multiple, competitive research environments; and for commitment to mentoring women as they become engineers.
Angela M. Wagner, Ph.D., is a principal scientist for Sterile and Specialty Products within the Pharmaceutical Sciences Division of Merck & Co. Inc. In this position, she is part of a team responsible for advancing formulation and manufacturing process development across Merck’s parenteral portfolio from preclinical development to Phase 3 clinical trials. Throughout her career, her research contributions have spanned several disease areas, culminating in diverse technical achievements and a strong leadership track record in developing novel drug delivery technologies for treatment of cancer and infectious diseases.
Dr. Wagner holds a B.S. in chemical engineering from The Pennsylvania State University and an M.S.E. and Ph.D. in chemical engineering from The University of Texas at Austin. As the first engineer in her family and first to pursue a graduate degree, she has dedicated herself to using engineering to solve important health care challenges. She has nearly nine years of professional experience in biopharmaceutical research, development of novel drug delivery technologies, and manufacturing process development.
Early in her career, Dr. Wagner established herself as a key contributor in driving Merck’s oligonucleotide therapeutics pipeline. She had a pivotal role in the discovery and development of Lipid Nanoparticle (LNP) technology, and advanced a variety of delivery technologies through development of structure-activity relationships, linking physiochemical properties in formulation design to bioperformance. As Merck’s LNP platform proved effective through rigorous testing, she led a cross-functional team to advance translation from preclinical development to clinical manufacturing. She later took interest in advancing drug discovery for Merck’s neglected infectious diseases. In this role, Dr. Wagner worked as part of a team to develop a novel oral formulation for the treatment of Hepatitis C virus infection (HCV), coined Zepatier®. At the time of the invention, there was no known cure for HCV infection, and today, the product continues to serve a critical medical need worldwide.
She continued her career in academic research, focused on using a chemical engineering approach to develop targeted polymeric nanoparticles for the treatment of ovarian cancer. There, she was able to make several advances in the field of nanomedicine, and her work garnered widespread recognition and grant support, including a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. In 2019, she returned to Merck to continue her research and identifying challenges in unmet medical needs. Most recently, she is leading a cross-functional CMC team responsible for the design of long-acting injectable products — shaping the future of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) treatment and prevention by putting the needs of patients at the center of their own care.
Dr. Wagner has demonstrated a lasting commitment to the Society of Women Engineers by mentoring and supporting other women engineers. She joined SWE in 2004 and has served in leadership capacities at the region and section levels, and particularly in GradSWE at UT Austin, where she twice served as president. During her presidency, she created two positions: outreach, with a focus on STEM education, and women’s advocacy to address common issues of graduate life and networking.
At Merck, Dr. Wagner’s commitment to her community is further exemplified by her extensive leadership in building the Pharmaceutical Sciences Diversity and Inclusion team and demonstrated passion in K-12 STEM outreach and mentoring of young researchers. Dr. Wagner also serves the pharmaceutical community through a variety of technical contributions and professional appointments across the Controlled Release Society, American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists, and TIDES Oligonucleotides.
In her spare time, she loves spending time with her husband and enjoys traveling, hiking, and swimming.