December 02, 2022

Merck Fosters Healthcare Of The Future

You've Reached Your
Free Article Limit This Month
Register for free to get unlimited access to all OnPractice content.
Register Now

Artificial intelligence and machine learning have led a digital transformation in healthcare, expanding providers' resources and improving the lives of people around the world. To continue pushing the boundaries of possibility in the industry, Merck proposed a plan to help accelerate innovative technologies for drug discovery and development—and bring those innovations to market.

The company decided to launch a new venture called the Merck Digital Sciences Studio (MDSS), which would support promising biomedical startups and entrepreneurs with direct investment, access to powerful Azure Cloud computing and opportunities to pilot their technologies in collaboration with discovery and clinical scientists at Merck.


To build a successful, bespoke program from the ground up, Merck needed a legal partner to coordinate with investors and collaborators, manage relationships, determine governance, draft the necessary documents and help with ongoing administration once the program was operational.

Led by Todd Finger as part of a wide offering of life sciences- and healthcare-related services, a McDermott team partnered closely with Merck to design and bring MDSS to life.


MDSS launched in June 2022, with an expectation of fielding 15-20 applications to fill 12 available spots. Within a few months, the program had more than 150 applicants.

Throughout the year prior to the launch, the McDermott team worked with Merck to orchestrate this entirely new, custom-tailored venture with the six companies and investors involved. Shaping the program and aligning the interests of all parties in the legal agreements and documentation required creative thinking and careful relationship management.

MDSS is a collaboration between Merck and the New Jersey Innovation Institute (NJII), a highly regarded innovator in healthcare and life sciences, which aims to provide MDSS with a pipeline of talented entrepreneurs. Another party, Microsoft, will deliver technology support for MDSS through Azure Cloud computing. In addition to working with Merck, NJII and Microsoft, the McDermott team coordinated with several investors: the Merck Global Health Innovation Fund, Northpond Ventures and McKesson Ventures.

McDermott remains involved in the program post-launch, participating in regular operations meetings with Merck as they select the first cohort of participants and get MDSS up and running.


In addition to supporting digital healthcare innovation, the MDSS initiative will allow Merck and its partners to invest in promising startup companies, operating with the companies and with each other in a coordinated, effective way.

ALM expressly disclaims any express or implied warranty regarding the OnPractice Content, including any implied warranty that the OnPractice Content is accurate, has been corrected or is otherwise free from errors.

More From McDermott Will & Emery

Trending in Telehealth: January 9 - 16, 2023

By Amanda Enyeart McDermott Will & Emery January 19 , 2023

Trending in Telehealth is a new weekly series from the McDermott Digital Health team where we track telehealth regulatory and legislative activity.

That Stings: Consent to Jurisdiction Must Be Effective at Filing to Invoke Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(k)(2)

By Joshua Revilla McDermott Will & Emery January 19 , 2023

The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, on petition for writ of mandamus, vacated the district court’s transfer order and remanded the transfer to be considered under the clarified parameters of Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(k)(2) and 28 U.S.C. § 1404.

Absent Expressed Rationale of Obviousness, Federal Circuit Calls for Do-Over

By Anisa Noorassa McDermott Will & Emery January 19 , 2023

The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed a ruling by the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (Board) where, on appeal, the US Patent & Trademark Office’s (PTO) rationale for sustaining the Board’s obviousness rejection did not reflect “the reasoning or findings the Board actually invoked.”

More From Health Care

Cookies and Other Tracking Technologies May Violate HIPAA

By Karin E. Ross Greenberg Traurig January 18 , 2023

In the midst of significant privacy changes in many U.S. states affecting tracking technologies such as cookies, pixels, and adtech, new lawsuits are alleging entities violated the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) via impermissible disclosure of protected health information due to the use of these technologies.

Extended Notice and Required Severance: Impending Expansions to New Jersey's WARN Act

By Lindsay Ditlow McDermott Will & Emery January 12 , 2023

On December 19, 2022, the New Jersey Senate passed Assembly Bill No. 4768 (A-4768), which, when effective, will implement a drastic expansion to New Jersey’s Millville Dallas Airmotive Plant Job Loss Notification Act (NJ WARN Act) and require that employers provide their employees with 90 days’ notice and severance pay in connection with mass-layoff events.

New Jersey Healthcare Transactions Now Face Onerous Employment Requirements

By Lindsay Ditlow McDermott Will & Emery January 12 , 2023

On November 16, 2022, New Jersey Senate Bill No. 315 (S-315) went into effect, providing new employment protections to eligible employees of certain private healthcare entities that undergo a “change in control.”

Featured Stories