Merck Welcomes ZEISS and Hamilton Thorne as New Members of the Global Fertility Alliance

DARMSTADT, Germany, June 30, 2016 /PRNewswire/ --

Not intended for U.S. based media  

- New partners are joining founding members Merck, Illumina and Genea to support
standardization of processes in assisted reproductive treatment laboratories 
- Update on the alliance's activities to be presented at ESHRE 

Merck, a leading science and technology company, today announced together with Illumina Inc., San Diego, US, and Genea Limited, Sydney, Australia, that the Global Fertility Alliance welcomed two new members. The alliance is a collaboration to advance excellence in fertility technologies and processes within the assisted reproductive treatment (ART) laboratory. Effective immediately, ZEISS, Oberkochen, Germany, an internationally leading technology enterprise operating in the optics and optoelectronics industries, and Hamilton Thorne Ltd., Beverly, Massachusetts, US, a leading provider of precision laser devices and advanced image analysis systems for ART, regenerative medicine and developmental biology research markets, are joining the alliance and its quest to improve the consistency in ART laboratories worldwide. Following the announcement of the alliance's formation at the 2015 Annual Meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE), an update on the alliance's activities will be presented at this year's ESHRE in Helsinki, Finland (3-6 July, 2016).

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"Through our work with the fertility community, we know that ART outcomes strongly depend on routines and technologies applied in laboratories. As such, we are committed to overcoming current variation in ART practices and techniques," explained Rehan Verjee, Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer at Merck's biopharma business. "We are working in the alliance to support the development of global standards in ART laboratories. We understand this as a critical factor for ensuring a consistently high level of performance across centers and countries, ultimately supporting the goal of women and couples of having a baby."

Seeing the importance of recognizing innovation in ART technologies, the Global Fertility Alliance was founded by Merck together with two strategic partners: Illumina, a leader in developing and commercializing systems for analysis of genetic variation and function, and Genea, a developer of innovative fertility technologies. The collaboration is part of Merck's Fertility Technologies strategy to partner with experts in the field to address unmet needs together and support the market with innovations, with a clear focus on extending its product portfolio for the benefit of the fertility community.

"ZEISS has a strong heritage in the development of specialized microscopes and we are committed to using our expertise in this field to drive the standardization of ART processes and techniques further," commented Peter Kraemer, Director Market Segment Education & Routine at ZEISS Microscopy Business Group. "We are impressed by the alliance's progress so far and look forward to contributing to improvements in ART practices through technology innovation."

"As a pioneer in the field of developing instruments for the in vitro fertilization clinic, advancing the science of fertility treatment is in the DNA of our company," said David Wolf, CEO of Hamilton Thorne. "With excellence in ART as its tenet, the goal of the Global Fertility Alliance is to drive automation and standardization in fertility laboratories worldwide to promote better outcomes for patients."

The collaboration partners are aiming to welcome further members which share the common objectives and complement the expertise of the existing partner companies.

About the Global Fertility Alliance 

Recognizing the importance of innovation in ART technologies, the alliance aims to enhance progress and innovation in three ways. Firstly, the founding members aim to foster integration of multiple, leading fertility technologies. Secondly, building on this, the alliance will aim to collaborate with leading health care professionals and medical societies to develop global standards. And finally, as technologies in the fertility space are rapidly advancing, the alliance will also develop educational resources for health care professionals worldwide. These efforts will include training curricula and workshops as well as access to model labs, symposia and events at medical meetings. The Global Fertility Alliance was launched at the 31st Annual Meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) in June 2015. First members besides Merck were Illumina, a leader in developing and commercializing systems for analysis of genetic variation and function, and Genea, a developer of innovative fertility technologies.

About ZEISS 

ZEISS is an internationally leading technology enterprise operating in the optics and optoelectronics industries. The ZEISS Group develops and distributes semiconductor manufacturing equipment, measuring technology, microscopes, medical technology, eyeglass lenses, camera and cine lenses, binoculars and planetarium technology. With its solutions, the company constantly advances the world of optics and helps shape technological progress. ZEISS is divided up into the four segments Semiconductor Manufacturing Technology, Research & Quality Technology, Medical Technology, and Vision Care/Consumer Optics. ZEISS is represented in over 40 countries and operates more than 30 production sites, over 50 sales and service locations and about 25 research and development facilities. In fiscal year 2014/15 the company generated revenue approximating EUR4.5 billion with around 25,000 employees. Founded in 1846 in Jena, the company is headquartered in Oberkochen, Germany. Carl Zeiss AG is the strategic management holding company that manages the ZEISS Group. The company is wholly owned by the Carl Zeiss Stiftung (Carl Zeiss Foundation).

About Hamilton Thorne Ltd. 

Hamilton Thorne designs, manufactures and distributes precision laser devices and advanced imaging systems that reduce cost, increase productivity, improve results and enable breakthroughs in the assisted reproduction, regenerative medicine and developmental biology research markets. Hamilton Thorne's laser products attach to standard inverted microscopes and operate as robotic micro-surgeons, enabling a wide array of scientific applications and IVF procedures. Its imaging systems improve outcomes in human IVF clinics and animal breeding facilities and provide high-end toxicology analyses. Hamilton Thorne's growing worldwide customer base consists of pharmaceutical companies, biotechnology companies, fertility clinics, university research centers, animal breeding companies, and other commercial and academic research establishments, including Harvard, MIT, Yale, McGill, Oxford, Cambridge, the Smithsonian Institution, Charles River Labs, Covance, ABS Global, Sexing Technologies, Novartis, Pfizer, and Dow Chemical.

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About Merck 

Merck is a leading science and technology company in healthcare, life science and performance materials. Around 50,000 employees work to further develop technologies that improve and enhance life - from biopharmaceutical therapies to treat cancer or multiple sclerosis, cutting-edge systems for scientific research and production, to liquid crystals for smartphones and LCD televisions. In 2015, Merck generated sales of EUR12.85 billion in 66 countries.

Founded in 1668, Merck is the world's oldest pharmaceutical and chemical company. The founding family remains the majority owner of the publicly listed corporate group. Merck, Darmstadt, Germany holds the global rights to the Merck name and brand. The only exceptions are the United States and Canada, where the company operates as EMD Serono, MilliporeSigma and EMD Performance Materials.

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