Max Tishler
BornOctober 30, 1906
DiedMarch 18, 1989(1989-03-18) (aged 82)
Alma materTufts College
Known forriboflavin industrial synthesis, cortisone industrial synthesis, sulfaquinoxaline, penicillin
ChildrenPeter Verveer Tishler
Carl Lewis Tishler
AwardsIRI Medal (1961)
National Medal of Science (1987)
Priestley Medal

Max Tishler (October 30, 1906 – March 18, 1989) was president of Merck Sharp and Dohme Research Laboratories where he led the research teams that synthesized ascorbic acid, riboflavin, cortisone, pyridoxine, pantothenic acid, nicotinamide, methionine, threonine, and tryptophan. He also developed the fermentation processes for actinomycin, vitamin B12, streptomycin, and penicillin. Tishler invented sulfaquinoxaline for the treatment for coccidiosis.[1]


He was born in Boston, Massachusetts on October 30, 1906. His father repaired shoes and he abandoned the family in 1911. Max worked in a pharmacy during the flu pandemic of 1918. He studied chemistry as an undergraduate at Tufts College, where he was a member of the Pi Lambda Phi fraternity.[2][1]

In 1934 he earned his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Harvard University. He married Elizabeth M. Verveer in 1934. He taught at Harvard from 1934 to 1937. His son, Peter Verveer Tishler, was born on July 18, 1937. In 1937, he took a position at Merck. His first project at Merck was to produce riboflavin. In the 1940s he developed a process for the synthesis of cortisone.[1]

In 1970 he retired from Merck, and taught chemistry at Wesleyan University.[1]

He died of emphysema at Middlesex Memorial Hospital in Middletown, Connecticut on March 18, 1989.[3]


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."



  1. ^ a b c d Lewis Hastings Sarett and Clyde Roche. "Max Tishler". New York Times. Retrieved 2011-12-15. Born in Boston in 1906, he was the fifth of six children of European immigrants. ...
  2. ^ Membership Directory, 2010, Pi Lambda Phi Inc.
  3. ^ "Max Tishler Is Dead. Pioneer in Making Of Cortisone Was 82". New York Times. March 20, 1989. Retrieved 2011-12-15. Max Tishler, a pharmaceutical scientist who led in the development of drugs to treat arthritis and other diseases, died of complications of emphysema Saturday at Middlesex Memorial Hospital in Middletown, Conn. He was 82 years old and a Middletown resident. ...