Professor Emeritus Edward Merrill, chemical engineer who helped found the field of bioengineering, dies at 96 | MIT News

Edward W. Merrill, professor emeritus of chemical engineering, died peacefully at his property on Aug. six at the age of ninety six, surrounded by his small children and grandchildren.

A longtime chemical engineer at MIT, Merrill was a founding contributor to the area of biological engineering. He created the region of biomaterials and about a sixty six-12 months profession pioneered various fields of bioengineering.

“Ed produced an indelible mark on just about every life he touched, professionally and personally. Not only did his research contributions assist superior the life of hundreds, but his determination to schooling and mentorship assisted shape a era of biomedical engineers,” states Paula Hammond, the David H. Koch (1962) Professor in Engineering and head of the MIT Department of Chemical Engineering. “I seasoned it 1st-hand as a college student and a co-teacher he lifted the bar for all of us.”

Born in New Bedford, Massachusetts, on Aug. 31, 1923, Merrill grew up in Jamaica Simple and West Roxbury, Massachusetts, and attended the Roxbury Latin University prior to coming into Harvard Faculty in 1941 to research the classics. He been given a BA in chemistry from Harvard University in 1944 and pursued doctoral reports at MIT below the course of Herman P. Meissner. Merrill been given his ScD in 1947 operating on revolutionary theories and experimental reports of polymer adhesion. Upon graduation, he was utilized by Dewey and Almy (later on component of W.R. Grace) and joined MIT as an assistant professor of chemical engineering in 1950. Merrill was appointed the Carbon P. Dubbs Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering in 1973, a place he held right until 1998. Merrill was a viewing lecturer in chemistry at Harvard University from 1952 to 1958, a expert at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital of Boston from 1960 to 1972, a expert of the Children’s Hospital in Boston from 1969 to 1972, and a expert of the Beth Israel Hospital in Boston from 1969 to 1985. He has also served as main scientist and expert in biochemical engineering to Harvard University Health Providers from 1984 to 1998.

In the 1950s and ’60s, Merrill was the primary scientist in blood rheology. He investigated the effect of the hematocrit, many plasma proteins, and white blood cells on blood viscosity and movement conduct, and he created suitable experimental tools for rheological investigations of blood (which include the patented GDM [Gilinson-Dauwalter-Merrill] viscometer) below reasonable in-vitro problems. In the 1960s and 1970s, Merrill was a pioneer in the improvement of the artificial kidney, examination of its transport traits, and optimization of hemodialyzer membranes. In fact, Merrill’s revolutionary do the job on artificial kidneys, with Professor Clark Colton PhD ’69 and Robert A. Britton ScD ’67, led to the improvement of the 1st Nationwide Institutes of Health tips for artificial kidneys in the 1960s. In the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s, he pioneered the area of protein/polymer conversation below stagnant and movement problems and produced extraordinary contributions in the improvement of hydrogels as biomaterials, and in ionic or covalent heparinization tactics on polymer surfaces for antithrombogenic components.

Merrill and Edward Saltzman of Harvard proposed polyethylene oxide (PEO) as a hugely biocompatible content in an influential 1979 paper and did major reports to review its stricture and blood reaction. Merrill’s ideas on PEO as a non-thrombogenic biomaterial led to an explosion in the use of PEG- and PEO-decorated biomedical units. In 1973, Merrill pioneered silicone-dependent get in touch with lenses that turned the basis of the difficult, oxygen-permeable get in touch with lens technological know-how. Merrill’s do the job on hugely cross-joined polyethylene in the nineties with William H. Harris led to the new irradiation-cross-joined, significant density polyethylene (HDPE) components applied in artificial joints these as knee and hip replacements.

Merrill’s contributions in the region of biomedical apps of aerosol engineering ended up also major and led to the use of dipalmitoyl-lecithin aerosols for procedure of infants born with hyaline membrane disorder (respiratory distress syndrome). Ultimately, he produced major and sustained contributions to drag reduction phenomena. Merrill was the inventor of far more than 40 U.S. patents and about 230 international patents.

“Professor Merrill was possibly the leading biomedical engineer of the 20th century,” states Nicholas Peppas ScD ’74, the Cockrell Household Regents Chaired Professor at the University of Texas at Austin and advisee of Merrill, “Not only did he create the fundamentals of the area, and came up with revolutionary inventions of blood movement rheometers, non-thrombogenic biomaterials, state-of-the-art get in touch with lenses, remedies of the respiratory distress syndrome, and the most effective components for joint replacements, but he also turned a superb educator and mentor who directed and advised hundreds, if not hundreds, of biomedically-oriented college students of various backgrounds and nationalities.”

Merrill personally supervised 57 PhD and 62 MS college students, and 12 postdocs in his profession. About 35 of these turned professors in engineering, sciences, or drugs in educational establishments. About 20 of them turned entrepreneurs serving as CEOs or other leaders of the chemical, biomedical or pharmaceutical industries. Merrill and eight of his former college students or associates ended up listed in the 2008 AIChE listing of “one hundred Eminent Chemical Engineers of the Modern-day Period.” Fifty-five of his educational descendants are users of the major academies now: 28 are Nationwide Academy of Engineering (NAE) users, 19 are users of the Nationwide Academy of Drugs (NAM), three are Nationwide Academy of Sciences (NAS) users, and five are users of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS). A lot of U.S. and international firms have been launched on his revolutionary research ideas by his college students and other folks.

A superb teacher, Merrill taught programs on polymers, biomaterials, transport phenomena, and health care sciences at MIT. His MIT study course entitled “Chemical Engineering in Drugs and Biology,” presented in 1963, was the 1st these study course in the United States. Merrill was a worried educator and mentor who welcomed in his laboratories many experts from other international locations. He had a near affiliation with Paul Rempp of the Macromolecular Center of Strasbourg, France, and in 1991 wrote an impactful reserve on polymers with him, “Polymer Synthesis.” At that time, he was also a vice-president of the Boston-Strasbourg Sister City Affiliation and a director of the Alliance Française of Boston-Cambridge from 1990-ninety six. He was also expert to the conservator of the Department of Prints, Drawings, and Photos at the Museum of High-quality Arts, Boston from 1988 to 1998.

Merrill was elected a member of the AAAS, the NAE, the NAM, and the Nationwide Academy of Inventors. He been given the Founders Award of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) in 2000, the Founders Award of the Modern society for Biomaterials (SFB) in 2003, and the Pierre Galletti Award from the American Institute of Healthcare and Organic Engineers in 2010. AIChE had also bestowed on him the 1982 Alpha Chi Sigma Award and the 1993 Charles M. A. Stine Award. In 1990, the SFB awarded him the Clemson Award. At its centennial celebration in 2008, AIChE regarded him as just one of the “100 Eminent Chemical Engineers of the Modern-day Period.”

Merrill married Genevieve “Ginette” de Bidart on Aug. 19, 1948, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Ginette handed away seven months before on Dec. 20, 2019. They are survived by their daughter Anne and son Frank Merrill, and their grandchildren: James, Sasha, and Julia Merrill. Merrill took good delight in his two small children and three grandchildren and enjoyed the time he used with them immensely. He was not merely a father and grandfather, but a mentor and inspiration to all who encountered him. His presence and his knowledge will sorely be missed by all whose life he touched, and he will be greatly missed by his loved ones. The loved ones has previously held non-public expert services.