Tomi K. Sawyer

Tomi K. Sawyer

Tomi K. Sawyer
Distinguished Scientist
Merck & Company

Professional Positions

2014 - present Distinguished Scientist, Discovery Chemistry Modalities, and Head, Peptide Drug Hunter Network, Merck Research Laboratories, Merck & Company, Boston MA
2007 - 2013 Chief Scientific Officer and Senior Vice-President, Stapled Peptide Drug Discovery, Aileron Therapeutics, Cambridge MA
2003 - 2006 Senior Vice-President, Drug Discovery; and Head, Kinase Inhibitor Chemistry, Ariad Pharmaceuticals, acquired by Takeda, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Previous scientific and management positions at The Upjohn Company, Parke-Davis/Warner Lambert and Pfizer


1981 Doctorate of Philosophy with Distinction, Organic Chemistry, University of Arizona
1976 Bachelor of Science, Cum Laude, Chemistry, Minnesota State University at Moorhead

APS Service

2010 - present Editorial Board, Peptide Science
2003 Co-chair, Eighteenth American Peptide Symposium, Boston MA
1999 - 2001 President
1995 - 2001 Council Member
1993 - present Council Nominating Committee, DuVigneaud Award Nominating Committee, Merrifield Award Nominating Committee, Publications Committee, Travel Awards Committee, Young Investigators Award Committee

Awards & Honors

2015 Professional Achievement Award, University of Arizona Alumni Association & College of Science
2006 Distinguished Alumni Award, Minnesota State University–Moorhead Alumni Foundation
1999 Milestone Award for Signal Transduction Drug Discovery Achievement, Ariad Pharmaceuticals
2001 Milestone Award for Signal Transduction Drug Discovery Achievement, Ariad Pharmaceuticals
1994 President's Distinguished Scientist Lecture Honorarium, Parke-Davis/Warner-Lambert Company
1990 Kagan Drug Discovery Award for Lead Finding in Pharmaceutical Research, The Upjohn Company
1988 DuVigneaud Award for Outstanding Achievement in Peptide Research, American Peptide Society

Research Interest

I am a multidisciplinary and entrepreneurial drug hunter with more than 35 years of industrial experience in both large pharma and biotech. I have led drug discovery campaigns on GPCR, protease, kinase and protein-protein targets, of which several have advanced into clinical trials and two achieved the status of marketed drugs, Scenesse ® and Iclusig ®. Most recently, I have been focused on macrocyclic peptide modulators of intracellular targets, including the first stapled helical peptide to advance to clinical trials, ALRN-6924.

Personal Statement

I believe that we are amidst a renaissance in peptide science and medicine with respect to witnessing the development of novel peptide, peptidomimetic and proteomimetic therapeutic modalities that are leveraging innovative chemistry and biology technologies. We are witnessing an unprecedented opportunity within both academia and industry to advance peptide drug discovery, and the American Peptide Society may play a significant role in this evolving worldwide peptide drug hunter enterprise.

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Young Investigator

Young Investigator

Drug overdose is now the leading cause of accidental death in the United States and opioid addiction is driving this epidemic. On average, 130 Americans die every day from an overdose of opioids...