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Reflections on Chirality in the Pharmaceutical Industry: Past, Present and Future Dr. Christopher J. Welch, Distinguished Scientist Process Research & Development Merck Research Laboratories, USA

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New Technologies, Postdoc Program, Science Lead, Analytical Chemistry at Merck
Reflections on Chirality in the Pharmaceutical Industry: Past, Present and Future Dr. Christopher J. Welch, Distinguished Scientist Process Research & Development Merck Research Laboratories, USA   


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At Chiral India 2016, New horizons in Drug development, Harnessing the power of Chirality .Organised by chemical weekly at Holiday inn international, Mumbai, India, Nov 8 2016

Christopher J. Welch

Science Lead for Analytical Chemistry
Merck Research Laboratories
Christopher J. Welch is Science Lead for Analytical Chemistry within the Process and Analytical Chemistry area at Merck Research Laboratories in Rahway, NJ.  Chris leads the New Technologies Review and Licensing Committee (NT-RLC), the organization that oversees identification, acquisition and evaluation of new technologies of potential value to Merck Research Laboratories.  Chris also leads the MRL Postdoctoral Research Fellows Program.  He received his BS degrees in Chemistry and Biochemistry from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1982 and a Ph.D. degree in Organic Chemistry (also U of I) in 1992. Dr. Welch has worked in a variety of fields within the chemical industry, including discovery synthesis of agrochemicals (Velsicol-Sandoz), development of reagents for improved immunodiagnostic assays (Abbott Laboratories), and development and commercialization of chromatographic stationary phases, reagents and enantioselective catalysts within a small chemical business environment (Regis Technologies).  Since joining Merck in 1999, he has focused on developing and applying improved methods and equipment for purification, synthesis and analysis of pharmaceuticals and intermediates.  Dr. Welch has authored more than 230 scientific publications and patents.  He is co-founder of the journal, Enantiomer, a current or past member of the editorial advisory boards for the journals, Chirality, Organic & Biomolecular ChemistryJournal of the Korean Chemical SocietyChemistry WorldChemical & Engineering News and ACS Central Science.  Chris is past chair of the ACS Division of Organic Chemistry (ORGN), a member of the Executive Committee for the International Symposia on Chirality, a member of the ACS steering committee for Pacifichem and a member of the PittCon Program Resource Team.  Honors and awards include the NJCG Award for Excellence in Chromatography (2004), the PACS Activated Carbon Hall of Fame award (2007), MRL Presidents Award for Environmental Achievement (2009), Microsoft Life Science Innovation Award (2010), Fellow of the American Chemical Society (2010), Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, AAAS (2013), the Chirality Medal (2015) and the University of Nebraska Industrial Advisory Board Award (2016).


Distinguished Scientist, Process & Analytical Chemistry

Merck & Co., Inc.
– Present (17 years 8 months)Rahway, NJ
Current responsibilities: Scientific Lead, Analytical Chemistry co-chair, New Technologies Review & Licensing Committee (NT-RLC) co-chair, Merck Research Laboratories Postdoctoral Research Fellows Committee
Previous Positions at Merck: Science Lead, Global Analytical Chemistry 8/10 – 8/12 Distinguished Senior Investigator, Process Research 7/07 – 8/10 Associate Director. Process Research 1/06 – 6/07 Senior Research Fellow, Process Research 6/03 – 12/05 Research Fellow, Process Research 5/99 – 6/03

Director of Research

Regis Technologies
(6 years 11 months)Morton Grove, IL (Chicago area)
- New product development and commercialization (chromatography columns, reagents, enantioselective catalysts) - Scientific evaluation of custom organic synthesis business - Set up contract synthesis/preparative chromatographic separation business - first of kind

Honors & Awards


American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)


American Chemical Society (ACS)

Chirality Medal 2015

Presidential Green Chemistry Award

US Environmental Protection Agency

– for precompetitive collaboration between Merck, Pfizer, Eli Lilly and University of Wisconsin on Aerobic Oxidation Methods for Pharmaceutical Synthesis - co-awardees: Shannon Stahl and Thatcher Root (U. Wisconsin), Joel Hawkins (Pfizer) and Joe Martinelli (Lilly)

Industrial Advisory Board (IAB) Award

University of Nebraska Department of Chemistry

Inaugural IAB award from U. Nebraska recognizing excellence in scientific research in an industry setting

Christopher J Welch


American Chemical Society, Division of Organic Chemistry (ORGN)

Councilor and Chair


Member of Steering Committee for Pacifichem 2020

Chirality (Journal)

member, editorial board

Chemical & Engineering News

member, editorial advisory board

Chemistry Today (RSC)

member, editorial advisory board

Journal of the Korean Chemical Society

member, international advisory board


Member, Pittcon Program Committee Resource Team

ACS Central Science

Member of Editorial Advisory Board

American Chemical Society

Member, Committee on Science (ComSci

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2014 publications, part 1

Use of a Miniature Mass Spectrometer to Support Pharmaceutical Process Research Investigations, Org. Proc. R&D 18, 103-108, 2014.
Chromatographic Separation and Assignment of Absolute Configuration of Hydroxywarfarin Isomers, Chirality 26, 95-101, 2014. Chromatographic Resolution of Closely Related Species in Pharmaceutical Chemistry: Dehalogenation Impurities and Mixtures of Halogen...more

2014 publications - part 2

Precompetitive Collaboration on Enabling Technologies for the Pharmaceutical Industry, Org. Proc. R&D 18, 481–487, 2014.
Imine-based Chiroptical Sensing Approach for Analysis of Chiral Amines: From Method Design to Synthetic Application, Chem. Sci. 5, 2855-2861, 2014. Advances in Achiral Stationary Phases for SFC, Amer. Pharm. Rev., April 2014, 36-41. Liquid Chromatography Methods for...more

2013 Publications

Evaluation of core–shell particle columns for ion-pair reversed-phase liquid chromatography analysis of oligonucleotides, J. Pharm. Biomed. Anal. 72, 25–32, 2013.
Pharmaceutical Industry Practices on Genotoxic Impurities, in Pharmaceutical Industry Practices on Genotoxic Impurities, ed Heewoon Lee, Taylor & Francis, 2013. Rapid Analysis of Residual Palladium in Pharmaceutical...more

2012 Publications
A Simple Parallel Gas Chromatography Column Screening System, Wes Schafer, Simon E. Hamilton, Zainab Pirzada and Christopher J. Welch, Chirality, 24,1–4, 2012.
Rapid catalyst identification for the synthesis of the pyrimidinone core of HIV integrase inhibitors, A. Bellomo, N. Celebi-Olcum, X. Bu, N. Rivera, R.T. Ruck, C.J. Welch, K.N. Houk, S.D. Dreher, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 51 (2012) 1-5 ...more

2011 Publications

Application of Ion Mobility Spectrometry in Drug Substance Development, H. Gao, X. Jia, R. Xiang, X. Gong, C. Welch, Analytical Methods, 3, 1828-1837, 2011.
Analytical Method Volume Intensity Index:A Green Chemistry Metric for HPLC Methodology in the Pharmaceutical Industry, R. Hartman, R. Helmy, M. Al-Sayah, C. Welch, Green Chemistry 13, 934-939, 2011. Does an Axial Propeller Shape on a...more

2010 Publications

High-throughput metal screening in pharmaceutical samples by ICP-MS with automated flow injection using a modified HPLC configuration, Tu, Wang, Welch, J. Pharm. Biomed. Anal., 51, 90-95, 2010.
Systematic Evaluation of New Chiral Stationary Phases for Supercritical Fluid Chromatography Using a Standard Racemate Library, Pirzada, Personick, Biba, Gong, Zhou, Schafer, Welch, J. Chromaogr.A,...more

Adsorbent Screening for Metal Impurity Removal in Pharmaceutical Process(Link)

Organic Process Research & Development
February 23, 2005
A microtube screening approach affords simple and convenient assessment of the selective adsorption of metal impurities by a variety of different process adsorbents. This approach is helpful in identifying rapid solutions to metal impurity problems in pharmaceutical process research. Several examples illustrating the utility of the approach are presented.
Online Analysis of Flowing Streams Using Microflow HPLC

Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical An
Response to Comment on “Cocktail Chromatography: Enabling the Migration of HPLC to Nonlaboratory Environments”(Link)

ACS Sustainable Chem. Eng. 2015, 3 (9), 1897.

ACS Sustainable Chem. Eng. 2015, 3 (9), 1897.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
The University of Chicago

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Welch helped launch Merck's new postdoctoral research fellowship program.

/////////Reflections on Chirality in the Pharmaceutical Industry, Past, Present and Future Dr. Christopher J. Welch, Distinguished Scientist, Process Research & Development,  Merck Research Laboratories, USA, presentation