2022 Franz Edelman Competition: Merck Animal Health

This podcast is part of a special series featuring the 2022 finalist teams for the INFORMS Franz Edelman Award for Achievement in Advanced Analytics, Operations Research and Management Science, the most prestigious award for achievement in the practice of O.R. and advanced analytics.

For more than four decades, the Edelman Award has recognized contributions that are transforming how we approach some of the world’s most complex problems. Finalists for the Edelman Award have contributed to a cumulative impact of more than $336 billion since the award’s inception, as well as countless other nonmonetary benefits. The winner of this year’s award will be announced at the 2022 INFORMS Business Analytics Conference, April 3-5.

Joining me for this episode are PK Yegneswaran, Vice President of Manufacturing Science and Technology, and Oscar Repping, Executive Director, Biotech Solutions, to discuss the finalist entry from the team at Merck Animal Health.

Merck Animal Health offers veterinarians, farmers, pet owners and governments one of the widest ranges of veterinary pharmaceuticals, vaccines and health management solutions. After four years of collaboration where vision met opportunity, a portfolio of optimization and decision support applications were implemented that substantially improved biomanufacturing effectiveness. Biomanufacturing uses living organisms (i.e., viruses and bacteria) to grow active ingredients in vaccines and therapeuticals. This high-tech manufacturing process generates challenges not found in many other industries. Additionally, the high cost of equipment and labor-intensive nature of operations precluded the ability to just add capacity. Operations research played a critical role in helping Merck Animal Health increase the output of critical medicines in specific areas.

Caring for animals is also critical to improve the health and well-being of humans. A recent report published by the World Health Organization estimates that 61% of all human diseases are zoonotic in nature, meaning they’ve traveled from animals to humans. This emphasizes the critical role of our industry in maintaining the health and welfare of humans and animals together. By using advanced analytics and operations research we are now able to increase our biomanufacturing efficiency and thereby improve the availability and accessibility of life-saving drugs. Together we can make this world a better place for all.

Interviewed this episode:

PK Yegneswaran, Oscar Repping

Merck Animal Health

PK Yegneswaran is a VP of manufacturing science and technology at Merck, with current responsibility for technical aspects of animal health products manufacturing. He has over 30 years of bio pharmaceutical industry experience in various leadership roles in the areas of development, commercial supply, technology transfer, strategic initiatives, continuous improvement, and change leadership across pharmaceutical and vaccine manufacturing in human and animal health areas.

Oscar Repping is an executive director with a global responsibility in the development and maintenance of production processes and analytical tools for vaccines and biotherapeutics. He holds a bachelor’s degree in biotechnology and is a passionate result-oriented leader with experience implementing processes and strategies that contribute to the bottom line.