Michel Chartrain

Bread, cheese and wine are all products of fermentation, but so are many of our medications. This is Chartrain’s bailiwick—coaxing bacteria to mass-produce the proteins and molecules that go into our drugs. As a distinguished senior investigator in the bioprocess research and development unit at Merck, he and his team tend to enormous vats of microbial life, adjusting conditions to create the optimal environment for fermentation. With this technology, he recently devised a novel method for generating plasmids for DNA vaccines, a critical step in the creation of effective pharmaceuticals.