Dr. James Merritt joined Kean University in 2010 after a 15-year career as a medicinal chemistry research leader at a New Jersey-based biotechnology company. During his industrial career, Dr. Merritt was the co-inventor on numerous potential medicines including Navarixin, a Merck drug that entered human trial testing in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
After receiving his B.S. degree in chemistry at the University of North Carolina–Wilmington, Dr. Merritt earned his Ph.D. in organic chemistry at Duke University in 1994 where he prepared one of the largest synthetic carbohydrates ever made up to that time under the direction of Prof. Bert Fraser-Reid.
At Kean, Dr. Merritt shares his passion for organic and medicinal chemistry with NJCSTM students and has established a thriving synthetic medicinal chemistry research group in the NJCSTM laboratories. Hosting 6-12 undergraduate and graduate student researchers each year, his laboratory produces small novel, drug-like molecules for testing as potential medicines. His current research focuses on synthesis of small molecule inhibitors of CCR1, a cell receptor that is implicated in rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and multiple myeloma. Dr. Merritt’s group has prepared numerous potent CCR1 inhibitors that are able to stop movement of cancerous human multiple myeloma cells and may eventually provide a new route for treatment. More recently, Dr. Merritt has brought combinatorial chemistry research to Kean. With combinatorial chemistry, a few chemists can make thousands of novel molecules in the time that it would normally take to make dozens. Using this special technique, four NJCSTM research students in 2013 prepared a collection of 27,000 molecules which are now being screened by a local biotechnology company in search of potential drugs for newly discovered biological targets.
Ph.D., Organic Chemistry, Duke University
Organic Chemistry Honors, Medicinal Chemistry, Research And Technology
Primary area of expertise:
Medicinal Chemistry, Drug Discovery, Combinatorial Chemistry, Synthetic Organic Chemistry
Advice for students preparing for your class:
Attend every class. If you must miss a class, find out what you missed. Do all assigned homework and turn it in on time. If you need help, don’t wait, send an e-mail or schedule an appointment to meet during office hours.