Kristin N. Valente, Ph.D.
Merck & Company Inc.
For leadership that drives global improvements for human health; for collaborative teamwork that promotes diversity and inclusion; and for unfailing generosity as a mentor and role model for women engineers.
Kristin N. Valente, Ph.D., is a director of technical operations for Merck & Company Inc. supporting many of the vaccines manufactured at Merck’s West Point, Pennsylvania, manufacturing site. In this role, she leads a team of engineers to solve daily technical challenges associated with vaccine manufacturing, implement proactive and innovative continuous improvements, and launch new vaccines to address unmet medical needs. In 2020, the team ensured delivery of more than 40 million doses of life-saving vaccines through technical support. She has more than 12 years of professional experience in biopharmaceutical research, process development, new product launches, and manufacturing support.
Previous roles at Merck include vaccine laboratory process support lead, where Dr. Valente created a centralized team and oversaw a multimillion-dollar capital project to provide laboratory support for the 10 franchises in Merck’s commercial portfolio, and co-led complex technical initiatives to increase productivity and expand access for two commercial vaccines. Additionally, Dr. Valente served as director of vaccine drug substance downstream commercialization. In this role, she transformed the team by more than 400% growth and actively managed a portfolio of nine novel vaccine programs, including contributions to ERVEBO manufacturing, which was attributed to contributing to the end of the 2018-20 Ebola outbreak.
Dr. Valente is chair of Merck Manufacturing’s Women in Science and Engineering initiative, where she leads a portfolio of programs providing mentoring and educational opportunities to engineers and scientists of all genders, including matching emerging leaders with a senior mentor for a formal one-year mentoring program. Additionally, she oversees a variety of educational elements, including sharing “diversity moments” with the broader Merck community.
Prior to joining Merck, Dr. Valente advanced the field of monoclonal antibody manufacturing as a graduate researcher at the University of Delaware, where she published seven seminal, peer-reviewed manuscripts on host cell proteins. She also created and lectured the inaugural undergraduate curriculum on design of experiment methodologies as a teaching fellow. She remains involved with the university, where she serves as adjunct faculty.
Dr. Valente also serves the pharmaceutical community through a variety of technical contributions and professional appointments across the Parenteral Drug Association (PDA), the American Chemical Society (ACS), and the National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals (NIIMBL). A long-standing member of PDA, she has served on the planning committee for the past three annual meetings and has recently joined the Science Advisory Board. Dr. Valente has presented several impactful presentations at ACS meetings and served as chair of the poster session at this year’s conference.
She earned her B.S. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and her Ph.D. from the University of Delaware, both in chemical engineering. Dr. Valente lives in the suburbs of Philadelphia with her husband and their twin sons, and enjoys family, books, and winter sports in her spare time.