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News Release

May 7, 2019
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kai.b.wang@merckgroup.com
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Merck Announces Winner of First Retrosynthetic Reaction Prediction Contest

  • Beijing University team awarded for retrosynthetic analysis strategy
  • Merck offers free training camp, online knowledge sharing, workshops, lab tours and mentorship to participants

Shanghai, China, May 7, 2019 — Merck, a leading science and technology company, today announced that MDL, a team from Beijing University, has won the company’s first Retrosynthetic Reaction Prediction Contest.

Contestants were required to design a model for retrosynthetic analysis based on given chemical reactions data, and then predict the materials used according to the target reagents and product. Selected by a panel of judges including Merck scientists, MDL won an RMB 22,000 cash prize for designing a hybrid modelling strategy for retrosynthetic analysis using a combination of artificial intelligence algorithms and research.

“As a leader in retrosynthesis, Merck is dedicated to advancing science and technology in this space, and we look forward to learning from and acknowledging research from curious scientists,” said Steve Vermant, managing director, head of Research Solutions Commercial, Life Science at Merck in China. “This contest provides a thought-provoking platform for students, researchers and practitioners to share ideas and innovation, and helps accelerate applications of new technology while also developing new talent.”

Other winners included:

  • DDDC, from Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica, Chinese Academy of Sciences, who won RMB 12,000 for second place.
  • Yang Lab’s team, from Sun Yat-Sen University, and Fudan-Panacea, from Fudan University, who both won RMB 8,000 for third place.

Retrosynthetic analysis plays a critical role in the development of new drugs, and its application has broad prospects especially in accelerating speed of drug research and development improving efficiency and reducing costs.

The contest, open to anyone in China, included a training camp, online knowledge sharing, as well as workshops, lab tours and mentorship for participants. The contest attracted 1,150 contestants, many of whom were students majoring in engineering, computer science, chemistry and medicine, from universities including Beijing University, Tsinghua University and Fudan University. Other contestants were researchers and practitioners with medical and life science backgrounds from institutions and corporations including Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica, Chinese Academy of Sciences, JD.com and PingAn Technology.

Participants worked in teams to generate new ideas, learn from one another and solve problems with support from Merck scientists. Merck launched the retrosynthetic analysis contest to promote exploration of artificial intelligence, machine learning in drug design and computer-aided drug design.

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About Merck

Merck, a leading science and technology company, operates across healthcare, life science and performance materials. Around 52,000 employees work to make a positive difference to millions of people’s lives every day by creating more joyful and sustainable ways to live. From advancing gene- editing technologies and discovering unique ways to treat the most challenging diseases to enabling the intelligence of devices – Merck is everywhere. In 2018, Merck generated sales of €14.8 billion in 66 countries.

Scientific exploration and responsible entrepreneurship have been key to Merck’s technological and scientific advances. This is how Merck has thrived since its founding in 1668. The founding family remains the majority owner of the publicly listed company. Merck holds the global rights to the “Merck” name and brand. The only exceptions are the United States and Canada, where the business sectors operate as EMD Serono in healthcare, MilliporeSigma in life science, and EMD Performance Materials.