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Max Tishler

Born October 30, 1906
Boston, MA
Died March 18, 1989
Middletown, CT
Nationality American
Fields Organic chemistry, Process chemistry, Fermentation
Institutions Harvard University, Merck & Co, Wesleyan University
Alma mater Tufts College
Doctoral advisor Elmer P. Kohler
Known for riboflavin industrial synthesis, cortisone industrial synthesis , sulfaquinoxaline, penicillin
Notable awards National Medal of Science, Priestley Medal

Max Tishler (October 30, 1906 – March 18, 1989) was a scientist at Merck & Co. who led the research teams that synthesized ascorbic acid, riboflavin, cortisone, miamin, pyridoxin, pantothenic acid, nicotinamide, methionine, threonine, and tryptophan. He also led a microbiological group that developed the fermentation processes for actinomycin D, vitamin B12, streptomycin, and penicillin. Tishler invented sulfaquinoxaline for the treatment for coccidiosis.

He was born in Boston in 1906, and was the fifth of six children of European immigrants. His father, a cobbler, abandoned the family when Max was only five years old. As Max grew up he worked to help support his family by working as a bakery delivery boy, and a newsboy. He worked in a pharmacy during the flu pandemic of 1918. He studied chemistry as an undergraduate at Tufts College, and in 1934 he had earned his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Harvard University. He taught for three years at Harvard, then in 1937, he took a position at Merck. His first research assignment at Merck was to develop an economical process for producing large quantities of riboflavin. In the 1940's he developed a process for the mass-production of cortisone.

In 1970 he retired from Merck, and joined the chemistry department at Wesleyan University. He died in Middletown, Connecticut in 1989. He is survived by his wife, Elizabeth, his son Peter and daughter-in-law Sigrid, his son Carl and daughter-in-law Bonnie, 3 grandchildren, and 4 great-grandchildren.


Research Advisor: Elmer P. Kohler, Dissertation title: "I. The reduction of alpha halo-ketones. II. The action of organic magnesium halides on alpha halo-ketones and on alpha halo-sulfones."


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